Korea deports two fishermen from the North accused of killing 16 crew members

08-Nov-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

South Korea on Thursday deported two North Koreans who crossed the inter-Korean sea border to the South to avoid justice after killing 16 fellow crew members on their fishing boat, the unification ministry said.

The two men in their 20s were sent back to the North through the truce village of Panmunjom on the border.

“The government has decided to deport them as they have committed a heinous crime. They cannot be treated as refugees under international laws,” ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said. “They could also pose threats to the life and security of our people.”

North Korea still carries out public executions, including by firing squad and hanging.

The two men were found south of the Northern Limit Line, a de facto sea border off South Korea’s east coast on Saturday. They attempted to flee when the South’s Navy tried to capture them, officials said. They were then taken to a nearby port for questioning, the ministry said.

The deportation took place after South Korea informed the North of its decision to send them back earlier this week, and the North subsequently agreed to it, the ministry said.

The rare deportation occurred despite tensions between the two Koreas after denuclearisation talks stalled.

It is the first case in which the South has deported a North Korean who came to the South through the sea or overland, the ministry said.

Unification minister Kim Yeon-chul told the National Assembly on Thursday that the two deported men and another fellow sailor were involved in killing 16 fellow sailors, including the skipper of their fishing boat.

Their boat with 19 crew members on board set sail off North Korea’s port of Kimchaek in August to catch squid fish off Russia. Acting out of anger against the abusive skipper, the three accused killed him and murdered the remaining 15 to cover up their first crime, according to the minister.

The three men threw the bodies overboard and sailed towards Kimchaek to flee to the Chagang province near the Chinese border. After one of them was arrested by North Korean authorities near Kimchaek, the two others ran away toward the South.

After being spotted by the South Korean navy, they attempted to abscond for two days despite warning shots from a South Korean navy vessel before being captured.

A North Korean defector said it was “absolutely certain” that the two will be executed in the North.

“The North will probably execute them in public as a message to potential defectors even if you flee to the South, you will end up like this,” Eom Yeong-nam told the Post.



Category: Korea

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