News / Asia

Another N. Korean Fisherman Rescued in S. Korean Waters

Another North Korean fisherman has been rescued in South Korean waters, according to Seoul’s Ministry of Unification.

“A South Korean fishing boat found the vessel in question, and it reported to the Coast Guard,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do in a press briefing Monday.

The government in Seoul said the man, rescued a week ago near the Dokdo Island, has requested asylum in the South. South Korea said for humanitarian reasons it did not notify Pyongyang of rescued North Koreans who do not wish to return to the North.

Earlier this month, another fishing boat sinking near Dokdo Island was rescued by the South’s Coast Guard. All five fishermen on board were returned to the North upon their request.

On May 31, a North Korean fishing vessel was found in the adjacent waters of Ulleungdo Island. Out of the three fishermen found aboard, one went back to his homeland, while the other two sought asylum in the South.

Seoul estimates the recent cases of drifting of North Korean vessels into its waters to be the consequence of excessive fishing activity to meet higher catches demanded by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
 
“[North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un has been quite active in the fisheries industry since late last year - visiting a number of related facilities and stressing its importance,” said spokesman Kim. “We assume that has put pressure on those who work in the fisheries industry to push for increased amount of daily catch.”

The new defector is slated to head to Hanawon, a government facility south of Seoul that is intended to teach North Korean defectors how to adjust to life in the South. The three-month training includes classes on Korean history, human rights, and democracy, as well as learning how to use ATMs and speak with a South Korean dialect.

North and South Korea have been divided since the end of fighting in the Korean War more than 60 years ago. They are separated by a heavily guarded demilitarized zone that prevents most unauthorized travel between the two sides.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Korean service.

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