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(LEAD) Navy officer goes missing near inter-Korean border island

Defense 10:02 January 09, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details, background info in last 6 paras)

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- A Navy officer has gone missing while on duty aboard a patrol boat off the western border island of Baengnyeong, military authorities said Saturday.

The chief petty officer disappeared at around 10 p.m. on Friday in waters south of the island in the Yellow Sea, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

"We've notified (related entities) via international communication lines, and search operations are under way mobilizing Navy and government vessels," the JCS said in a brief statement.

North Korea is also connected to the lines.

The 450-ton patrol killer was sailing for night guard operations, and weather conditions were unfavorable at that time, a JCS officer said.

Around 40 service members were aboard the vessel, and he was last captured on closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) installed inside the boat at around 9:35 p.m., the officer said.

"We leave open every possibility about the incident and are doing everything to find the missing individual," a JCS officer said.

In September last year, a South Korean government official went missing near the western border island of Yeonpyeong and was adrift on the North Korean side of the Yellow Sea. Upon finding the official, the communist country shot him to death.

The South Korean military has come under fire for not appropriately communicating with North Korea over the issue, which could have prevented the tragedy.

A high-speed boat of the Navy moves in waters off Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea on June 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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