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Moon orders full probe into N. Korean boat's undetected arrival in S. Korea

Defense 19:47 June 20, 2019

SEOUL, June 20 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in instructed the military Thursday to look thoroughly into why it failed to spot a North Korean fishing boat that crossed the border and reached a local port, according to his office.

Moon issued the order directly to Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo just before they attended an inter-agency session on fighting corruption at the presidential compound, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said.

Moon was quoted as telling the minister to "thoroughly check" where there were problems connected with the failure to detect the small wooden vessel and to provide the people with adequate information immediately.

The military has come under fire following revelations that the boat crossed the inter-Korean maritime border and sailed undeterred through the South's territorial waters in the East Sea for a few days before reaching the port of Samcheok, Gangwon Province, on Saturday. Samcheok is located around 130 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto sea border between the two Koreas.

The president later convened a separate meeting with top security officials to discuss the issue.

Based on the results of the discussions, Ko dismissed multiple media reports that Cheong Wa Dae, the military and other relevant authorities have sought to cover up the truth behind the case.

In case of incidents involving North Korean ships and crew members reaching South Korea, she pointed out, keeping details secret is a principle under a related manual. It's aimed at protecting their security and safety.

It calls for a "brief explanation" on some facts when media exposure is needed, Ko added.

Regarding the controversy over the military's initial announcement that the boat was found "in the vicinity of" the Samcheok port, she said it's an expression commonly used by the military.

It was revealed later that the boat had berthed at the port and that some of its four crewmembers even disembarked from it.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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