SKorea sends NKorean fishermen home

Seoul returns surviving fishermen who had been drifting so long that some of their shipmates reportedly starved to death

SKorea sends NKorean fishermen home

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Korea fulfilled its promise to repatriate eight North Korean fishermen Monday, after they were rescued from three inoperable vessels off the South's east coast last week.

All of them asked to be allowed to return home, despite widespread claims of human rights violations by Pyongyang's infamous regime.

South Korean officials tried without success to make contact with the North via border loudspeakers to arrange the handover -- the two sides broke all ties this year amid Pyongyang's nuclear weapon development.

Having been ignored by their counterparts from the reclusive state, the South sent the fishermen back anyway as previously announced.

This time the fishermen traveled on two boats as the third was deemed beyond repair following a collision with a vessel from China, which has received repeated complaints from Seoul for failing to stop its fishing crews operating illegally in South Korean waters.

Pyongyang is believed to have sold some of its maritime rights, even as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is believed to be pushing for an increase in fishing stocks as a vital source of food and currency.

According to the South's government, North Korea appeared to have got the message to pick up its eight citizens.

"Two North Korean patrol ships and two tugboats appeared near the [maritime border], and the sailors were sent to the North," unification ministry spokesperson Jeong Joon-hee was quoted by Yonhap news agency as telling reporters.

Jeong had earlier revealed that the fishermen claimed that several of their fellow sailors had starved to death, although none of the dead were recovered.

It was a reminder of the North Korean boats that washed up in Japan last year carrying 27 corpses.

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Aralık 2016, 09:52
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