Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(LEAD) 2 S. Koreans held in N. Korea after fishing vessel drifts in East Sea

North Korea 17:04 July 24, 2019

(ATTN: ADDS more info throughout; UPDATES with minor edits)

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- Two South Koreans are being held in North Korea after their fishing vessel drifted into the North's waters last week due to an engine malfunction, unification ministry officials said Wednesday.

The South Korean men, in their 50s and 60s, respectively, were taken to the North's east coast city of Wonsan, along with 15 Russian crew members, on the Russian-flagged Xiang Hai Lin 8 on July 17, according to the officials.

The 300-ton vessel had left the South's northeastern port of Sokcho for the port of Zarubino in Russia's Far East the previous day.

The sailors are known to be safe, but the North is not responding to Seoul's repeated requests for cooperation on a prompt return of the South Korean nationals.

"The government will do our best to confirm the safety of our nationals and make sure a positive measure can take place based on our discussions channel with the North and close cooperation with the Russian authorities," the ministry said in a statement.

According to the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang, the vessel was detained for "violating the rules of entry and stay" in North Korean territory.

"All the crew members are healthy," the embassy said in a Facebook post, after its consular officers met with the sailors Monday.

The two South Koreans, who were on board to guide and supervise the sailors, are known to be at a hotel in Wonsan.

The Russian embassy is "taking all necessary measures to resolve the situation as soon as possible," it said, adding that it is in constant contact with the North over the issue.

In 2010 and 2017, South Korean-flagged vessels were caught in North Korean waters and all the crew returned home after undergoing investigation.

It took 31 days for the seven sailors to return home in 2010, while the 10 crew held in 2017 came back home in seven days.

The incident took place as inter-Korean relations have been in limbo, apparently hamstrung by lack of progress in denuclearization talks between North Korea and the United States.

North Korea has been lukewarm to South Korea's offers for cross-border projects. It is reportedly rejecting the food assistance that Seoul promised to send through an international agency, citing joint military drills South Korea and the U.S. plan to hold next month.

(LEAD) 2 S. Koreans held in N. Korea after fishing vessel drifts in East Sea - 1


Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!