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Two N. Korean fishermen expressed intent to defect in writing

Two N. Korean fishermen expressed intent to defect in writing

Posted November. 12, 2019 08:46,   

Updated November. 12, 2019 08:55


The two North Korean fishermen accused of killing 16 fellow crew members on a squid fishing boat before arriving in South Korea, reportedly drew up documents in their own handwriting to express an intent to defect on the day of arrest before they were sent back to the North. Controversies are expected to rise over the government’s decision to deport the two men against their will expressed in written form.

The two North Koreans surnamed Oh and Kim were captured by the navy in the eastern sea and transferred for an investigation on Nov. 2, according to government sources Monday. When asked by investigators whether they would “defect to the Republic of Korea,” the two fishermen reportedly answered they would stay here, and filled out documents to express an intent to defect. Though they exhibited extreme mood swings starting from the next day while confessing to the crimes, they were apparently unaware of their deportation until the last minute on Thursday.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul told the National Assembly Friday that the deportees made conflicting statements during the process of the investigation, including the one they said they would go back even if that means death. The government determined that the two men had no intent to defect in the end, he said. Given the North Korean ship’s routes taken to flee the authorities and the two fishermen’s statements, the government could not be sure of sincerity in their intent to defect, a Unification Ministry official explained Monday.

Dong-Joo Cho djc@donga.com · In-Chan Hwang hic@donga.com