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South rescues fishing boat from North, plans to return crew

June 12,2018
A North Korean fishing boat was rescued while floating in waters off South Korea’s east coast on Monday. All five of its crew members have expressed their desire to go back home, officials said.

A South Korean fishing boat alerted authorities after spotting the North Korean boat floating about 220 kilometers (140 miles) off the coastal city of Sokcho at around 6:20 a.m.

The Coast Guard dispatched a patrol vessel and rescued the boat, which had suffered an engine problem.

After questioning the five crew members, authorities determined that they did not intend to defect.

“As far as I know, they did not cross into the South to defect,” a government source said on the condition of anonymity.

“It appears that they expressed their desire to go back.”

Once authorities confirm that the crew members want to go back, the government will notify the North of its plan to repatriate the boat and its crew and hand them over to North Korean authorities at sea.

It is not uncommon for North Korean fishing boats to end up in South Korean waters due to engine or other mechanical problems. The South has repatriated crew members if they want to go back.

In December, the South sent back a North Korean fishing boat after rescuing it in waters about 84 kilometers off Ulleung Island.