South questions lost North Korean fishermen

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South questions lost North Korean fishermen

South Korean authorities questioned four North Korean fishermen for a second day Sunday after rescuing them a day earlier from a boat that had drifted across the maritime border off the east coast after an engine failure.

The boat was found adrift in waters near the port of the east coast city of Samcheok on Saturday morning. The site was about 150 kilometers (93 miles) south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas.

A joint team of officials from related agencies, including the military and the Coast Guard, interviewed the four crew members for the second day Sunday, but details of the questioning have not been made available, including whether they expressed a desire to return home.

The case also raised criticism that the Navy and the Coast Guard failed to detect the boat until it drifted deep into South Korean waters.

“We’re looking into the case,” a military official said.

It was the second time in less than a week that a North Korean fishing boat has been rescued in the South. On Tuesday, six North Korean crew members on another fishing boat were found stranded in the East Sea south of the NLL and were sent back home on humanitarian grounds.

In Tuesday’s case, the North asked the South via a naval hotline for help rescuing the boat. But no such communication took place in the latest case, officials said.

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