In an extremely unusual case, South Korea on Thursday deported two North Korean fishers after determining they had killed 16 other crew members on their boat and then fled to South Korean waters, Seoul officials said.
South Korea has a policy of accepting North Koreans who want to resettle in the nation to avoid political oppression and poverty at home.
This week’s deportations were the first South Korea has carried out of any North Korean since the end of the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said.
The two North Korean men, both in their 20s, were captured on Saturday last week on their boat south of the two nations’ eastern sea border, the ministry said.
It said an investigation later found that the two had killed 16 colleagues, including the captain.
Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min said that Seoul decided to expel the two fishers to North Korea, because they were “heinous criminals” who could not be recognized as refugees under international law.
The two were sent back through the two nations’ land border, Lee said.
Nineteen people were aboard the squid fishing boat when it left North Korea’s Kimchaek port on the east coast in August.
While fishing in waters near Russia and elsewhere, the two men collaborated with another crew member and killed the captain, who they said had abused them, according to the investigation.
The trio later killed 15 other fishers on the boat to cover up their action.
The three went back to Kimchaek port with the intention of moving to another region of North Korea, but the third fisher was arrested near the port, and the other two fled using the same boat, the ministry said, citing the investigation.
When their boat sailed across the sea border last week, they were chased by a South Korean navy ship, which fired warning shots at them. After two days, the two were captured by the South Korean navy last Saturday.
They later told investigators that they wanted to resettle in South Korea, but the authorities determined that they only wanted to avoid arrest and on Tuesday informed North Korea of the plan to deport them, the ministry said.
Observers say the men are likely to receive heavy punishment in North Korea, including possible execution.
Some media questioned why the South Korean government made the deportation decision so early and whether it should have allowed the North Koreans to go through a judicial process first.
Seoul had determined the two’s acceptance into South Korean society would threaten public safety, Lee said.
North Korean fishing boats occasionally drift into South Korean waters and Seoul usually accepts those who chose to resettle, while repatriating others who wish to return home.
About 32,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since the end of the Korean War, most of them via China and in the past two decades.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
China is poised to enshrine individuals’ rights to privacy and personal data for the first time, a symbolic first step as more of the country of 1.4 billion people becomes digitized — and more vulnerable to leaks and hacks. The legislation is part of China’s first civil code, a sweeping package of laws that is being deliberated during the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress, which began on Friday after a delay of more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent draft, an individual has a right to privacy and to have their personal information protected. Data
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed