Two Sailors of N. Korean Boat Found Adrift Repatriated

Two of the four North Korean sailors who were aboard a fishing boat that was found adrift in waters off Samcheok, Gangwon Province last Saturday have been repatriated to the North.

An official of South Korea’s Unification Ministry told reporters that the two sailors who had wished to return home were repatriated on Tuesday via the truce village of Panmunjeom in accordance with inter-Korean practices and humanitarian principles.

As for the other two North Koreans who have expressed intent to stay in the South, the ministry official said they will take defection procedures via Hanawon, the main North Korean escapees support center.

Seoul is said to have notified Pyongyang on Monday morning of the discovery of the fishing boat and its crew and Pyongyang responded late Monday night.

The South Korean military said it has found areas that need improvement after authorities failed to detect a North Korean fishing boat until it had drifted deep into South Korean waters last week.

The approximately one-ton vessel, made from wood, was found last Saturday near the east coast port of Samcheok some 130 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean maritime border.