2 North Korean fishermen rescued, repatriated

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2 North Korean fishermen rescued, repatriated

South Korea’s Coast Guard has rescued two shipwrecked North Korean crewmen in the East Sea and repatriated them home, officials said Saturday.

The East Sea unit of the South Korea Coast Guard on Thursday rescued the two North Koreans who were stranded in a boat on the southern side of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea, off South Korea’s Goseong County, Gangwon, due to an engine breakdown, according to the South Korea Coast Guard.

Following the rescue, the two North Korean crewmen were transferred back to a North Korean patrol boat across the NLL, the de factor sea border, Saturday afternoon, the coast guard said.

A South Korean Navy patrol plane initially found the North Korean fishing boat before a Navy vessel arrived at the scene to interrogate the men, according to the Coast Guard.

The crewmen expressed their wish to be sent back home but were soon transferred to a South Korean Coast Guard ship due to high waves before being repatriated to the North. The fishing boat sank during the rescue process.

“The North Korean side informed the South through the inter-Korean communication line Thursday afternoon of the broken fishing boat drifting toward the South and asked for its repatriation,” a Coast Guard official said.

“Our side exchanged multiple messages with the North side over issues like the shipwreck, the rescue, as well as the location and the methodology of the repatriation,” the official said.

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