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Two N. Korean fishermen deported back home, not knowing their repatriation

Two N. Korean fishermen deported back home, not knowing their repatriation

Posted November. 11, 2019 07:37,   

Updated November. 11, 2019 07:37


The two North Koreans deported back home last Thursday apparently had not known that they would be repatriated to the communist nation. The two fishermen had reportedly killed 16 fellow crew members on a squid fishing boat and fled to the South. One of the two North Koreans surnamed Oh was so shocked that he collapsed after seeing North Korean soldiers standing on the other side of the Panmunjom, raising suspicions over the decision of South Korea to return the men just in five days.

According to government sources, Oh and the other fisherman surnamed Kim were directly taken to the truce village of Panmunjom from the place of investigation with their eyes covered and hands tied up last Thursday. Due to concerns that they could act unpredictably if informed of the planned repatriation, the government did not tell them the destination and the SWAT team escorted the vehicle carrying the North Koreans. Gags were also prepared against possible resistance of the escapees.

The North Koreans reportedly realized that they were being deported back to Pyongyang only when they arrived in Panmunjom. Oh was first handed over to the North at the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), and Kim was then taken out of the waiting room and transferred. It is reported that Oh sank to the ground after seeing three North Korean soldiers on the other side of the MDL and Kim also looked dejected when handed over.

Lieutenant colonel surnamed Lim heading the guard at the Joint Security Area (JSA) apparently reported the process of sending the two North Koreans back home via a telephone call, but it remains unknown who received the call. Lim’s way of reporting via a text message to the first deputy chief of the security office at the presidential office Kim Yoo-geun had earlier sparked controversies.

Some say that the deportation of the two fishermen without a prior notice even though they expressed their intention to defect to the South seems to be the government’s decision made conscious of the North Korean regime. The ministry that handles inter-Korean affairs has explained that the South Korean government proposed that they repatriate the two men to the North after obtaining intelligence that the North is hunting for the criminals.

Dong-Joo Cho djc@donga.com