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Families of 6 missing crewmen arrive in Jeju

Nov 23,2019
이미지뷰
The stern of the sunken fishing boat is salvaged off Jeju Island on Friday. None of the remaining eleven crewmen had been found as of press time Friday evening. [YONHAP]
Family members of six missing Vietnamese crewmen flew to Jeju Island on Thursday, two days after a 29-ton fishing boat with 12 crewmen on board caught fire and capsized in waters off the island.

One of the crew, a 61-year-old Korean man, was found but confirmed dead when he arrived at a hospital on Tuesday morning. None of the remaining 11 crewmen were found as of 8 p.m. press time Friday. Among those missing, five are Korean nationals and six are Vietnamese.

The Coast Guard expanded the scope of their operations Thursday with 35 vessels from the Coast Guard and the Navy, as well as 17 aircraft, deployed to search for the missing.

A total of four family members of the six missing Vietnamese crewmen arrived on Jeju Island at around 5 p.m. on Thursday.

The families were provided with flights to Jeju Island and accommodation by the office of South Gyeongsang.

Families of other crew members in Vietnam are also in the process of entering Korea with the support of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They are expected to arrive in Korea as early as the end of the week, according to the office of South Gyeongsang.

An official from South Gyeongsang said Thursday that they will further discuss supporting the families with a disaster relief fund.

“We will offer support in any way we can to help the families of missing crewmen,” Jeju Governor Won Hee-ryong said during a briefing held for the families of the missing crewmen at a Jeju Coast Guard office Thursday morning.

Five of the missing Vietnamese nationals lived in a fishing village called Thanh Xuan in Vietnam, while the sixth had just gotten married two months ago and his wife is living in Jinju, South Gyeongsang.

The number of foreign crew in Korea has more than doubled since 2008 to 26,321, according to data provided by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. Also, the number of Vietnamese crewman who were working in Korea in 2008, or around 1,240, increased dramatically and reached 5,779 last year.

“Many Vietnamese crewmen come to Korea in the hope of earning lots of money,” a 37-year-old interpreter from Vietnam identified only by the surname Suh said. “The people who came to Korea before anyone else lead their families or friends to jobs as well.”

BY WE SUNG-WOOK, KIM JUNG-SEOK AND CHEA SARAH [chea.sarah@joongang.co.kr]