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North Korea Releases 4 Detained South Korean Fishermen

  • Jason Strother

North Korea has freed four South Korean fishermen after one month in detention. It is the latest goodwill gesture from the reclusive state in recent weeks. From Seoul, Jason Strother has more.

Four South Korean fishermen and their vessel were released Saturday after a one month detention in North Korea.

Families of the ship's crew are elated they are finally coming home.

Lee Ah Na whose husband is the boat's captain, thanked the South Korean government for winning his freedom. She says though, that she is worried about his health.

Pyongyang accused the fishermen of intruding into its territorial waters on July 30. Seoul maintains that their ship's navigational equipment malfunctioned, causing them to go astray.

Fishermen from both Koreas often find themselves on the wrong side of their nations' maritime border. Seoul and Pyongyang disagree on exactly where that demarcation line lies.

The two Koreas were divided in 1945 and remain technically at war since their 1950-53 war ended only with a ceasefire agreement.

But today's release is seen as another sign that relations between the two states are improving. On Friday, North and South Korea agreed to resume reunions for separated families after a two-year freeze. Pyongyang has also proposed to restart joint tourism projects with the South and earlier this month released a detained South Korean engineer from a joint industrial complex.

Both Seoul and Washington have welcomed these goodwill gestures, but say that North Korea must fulfill its pledges to end its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang walked away from negotiations earlier this year.

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