Father, son from North to stay in South

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Father, son from North to stay in South

The local government has allowed a father and son from North Korea who drifted into the East Sea in a fishing boat last week to stay in South Korea, as they requested, the Ministry of Unification announced Thursday.

Seoul usually allows North Koreans to stay if they seek asylum and successfully pass an interrogation process. The ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, did not explain their reasons to defect, citing fear of retribution their remaining family in the North might face.

The couple was among three people on a boat that left Sinpo, a port city in South Hamgyong Province, last week and was found “stranded” near South Korea’s Ulleung Island on June 3 by the Coast Guard.

A ministry official said the father and son expressed their desire to remain in the South immediately after they were rescued. The third man appears not to have known about their defection plan.

The boat was out of fuel when Coast Guard officials arrived, according to the official.

The third man was repatriated to the North Friday morning across the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea, the de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas, along with one other North Korean sailor that was rescued by the Coast Guard on June 2 in another boat.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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