After murder, Korean vessel safely heads to port

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After murder, Korean vessel safely heads to port

The Kwang Hyun 803 is sailing toward the Seychelles without further unrest, the Busan Coast Guard has reported, following the fatal stabbing of a Korean captain and engineer by two Vietnamese crewmen on the deep-sea fishing vessel in the Indian Ocean.

The remaining Korean crewman aboard, a 50-year-old surnamed Lee, took the helm after the incident on Monday and is steering the boat to a port in Victoria.

The operator of the ship, Kwangdong Shipping, said that a satellite telephone call was recently made in which Lee relayed that there is no need for further alarm at this point.

“We communicated with the remaining Korean at around 9 a.m. through a satellite telephone call and there is currently no particular unrest as the ship heads toward Victoria Port,” said an official with Kwangdong Shipping. The Busan Coast Guard said that frequent communication is being made with Lee and the ship’s operator. “Out of concern that the crewmen may get agitated, the Coast Guard is not directly contacting the navigator on the ship.”

The 138-ton Korean ship departed from Busan on Feb. 11, 2015, along with two other fishing vessels - the Kwang Hyun 801 and the Kwang Hyun 802. There were 18 crewmen aboard the Kwang Hyun 803: three Koreans, seven Vietnamese and eight Indonesians. Early Monday at around 2 a.m., two Vietnamese crewmen, both 32 years old, killed the 43-year-old captain, surnamed Yang, and a 42-year-old chief engineer surnamed Kang. They were both said to be intoxicated at the time of the stabbing.

One of the suspects was said to have been armed with a 30-centimer (11.8-inch) knife used for catching fish. Yang was said to have been stabbed on the bridge and Kang in the engineer room.

The suspects were soon detained by the other crewmen and are currently locked up in a cabin as the vessel sails toward the Seychelles, where a formal investigation will be held.

It is unclear whether the murder was a premeditated mutiny, but the Korean Coast Guard said that it appeared the other crewmen did not join the two suspects.

As of 6 a.m., the vessel has traveled 340 kilometers (211.3 miles) since the crime took place the previous day, and was around 840 kilometers from the Seychelles. It is expected to arrive in Victoria on Thursday afternoon.

Lee and an Indonesian mate are taking turns steering the vessel. The bodies are being stored in the vessel’s freezer. On Tuesday, the Busan Coast Guard sent a seven-member investigation team to Victoria to take on the case. This includes determining the suspects’ motives, who was wielding the knife and how it was used.

Likewise, five members of the bereaved families of Kang and Yang, accompanied by interpreters, also departed from Incheon International Airport that morning to meet the ship when it arrives in Victoria.

BY SARAH KIM, KANG SEUNG-WOO [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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