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N. Korean fishing boat drifts for 3 days in S. Korean waters

N. Korean fishing boat drifts for 3 days in S. Korean waters

Posted June. 20, 2019 07:50,   

Updated June. 20, 2019 07:50


A North Korean fishing boat first found anchored at Samcheok Port in Gangwon Province thanks to a report by a local resident on Saturday was confirmed on Wednesday to have departed from a fishing village in Kyongsong County, Hamkyong Province, North Korea on June 9 after receiving a written order for sailing (aka fishing operation permit).

According to a government source, the North Korean residents on the boat sailed a small 1.8-ton wooden boat the day after a sailing order was issued by the North Korean authorities on June 8 and ran a fishing operation in disguise near the Northern Limit Line in the East Sea until they crossed the inter-Korean border to South Korea on June 12. The boat came alongside a quay near a breakwater in Samcheok Port at 6:20 a.m. on Saturday after having drifted in the nearby waters of Ulleung Island.

As the “maritime knock defection,” a name coined from the infamous defection by a North Korean soldier in 2012, having resulted from the failure in military surveillance operations is causing a stir, some call for the military unit in charge and the command to be held accountable. The military authorities reported in a briefing on Monday that there was no issue in the overall maritime and coastal surveillance operations and admitted two days later its inadequacy and mistakes in surveillance after testimonies and pictures exposing the details of defection came out by Samcheok residents.

“All members of the military should regard the situation related to the North Korean vessel as serious,” South Korean National Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said at a top commanders’ meeting of all armed forces held on Wednesday in the headquarters of the Ministry of National Defense in Yongsan-gu, Seoul. “If any officials are found to have been delinquent in the matter, they will be held accountable. At the same time, we will improve current monitoring operations,” the minister added.

Meanwhile, the opposition party demanded the resignation of Defense Minister Jeong. “The security of the Republic of Korea is not being defended by the military. Minister Jeong should immediately resign,” Liberty Korea Party floor leader Na Kyung-won said at a general meeting of lawmakers on Wednesday.

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com