SEOUL (AFP) – South Korea said yesterday it had repatriated seven North Korean crew a day after Seoul’s navy seized their boat and fired a warning shot at a patrol vessel for crossing the maritime border.
The crew members told authorities they had crossed the maritime border due to a “navigation error and mechanical problem” and asked to return to the North, the Defence Ministry said.
“Our military handed over all seven North Korean crew and the ship to the North… on humanitarian grounds and according to the custom,” it added in a statement.
A North Korean patrol boat had also crossed the de facto maritime border off the west coast of the peninsula early on Tuesday while chasing the southbound vessel, a Defence Ministry official said.
The South’s navy fired a warning shot at the North Korean patrol boat, which turned around and headed back to the North, the official added.