North Korean found adrift in boat opts to defect

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North Korean found adrift in boat opts to defect

A North Korean man who drifted into South Korean waters on a small boat has expressed his desire to defect to the South, Seoul officials said yesterday.

According to the South’s Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Unification, the man, assumed to be a civilian, arrived alone at around 7 a.m. yesterday in a wooden boat at the frontline island of Baengnyeong in the Yellow Sea.

“He is currently being questioned by a relevant organization,” a South Korean government official told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “It is expected to take at least one or two days to finish questioning him on his identity.”

The South Korean government has not yet released the man’s name, upon his request.

Since May, a series of North Korean men, mostly fishermen, have been caught drifting past maritime borders and into South Korean waters, with some seeking to defect.

On May 31, three North Koreans in a fishing boat were rescued near South Korea’s Ulleung Island. The men had apparently been adrift for weeks after the vessel’s engine failed.

Two asked to defect to the South, while the third requested to be repatriated to North Korea.

On June 13, five more North Korean fishermen were rescued in a sinking boat near the Dokdo islets, the South’s easternmost land mass in the East Sea. All were repatriated to North Korea through the border village of Panmunjom upon their request.

Three days later, another North Korean man was also rescued alone by the South Korean Coast Guard. He also chose to defect to the South.

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