N.Koreans Seize S.Korean Fishing Boat

A South Korean fishing boat was seized by a North Korean patrol boat in the East Sea on Sunday. The 41-ton squid fishing boat Daeseung carrying four South Korean and three Chinese crewmen was captured in the East Sea on Sunday and has been under investigation in the North.

The Coast Guard said the Daeseung went missing while catching squid and was captured by North Korean authorities in the North's so-called exclusive economic zone.

According to the Coast Guard, South Korean maritime authorities in Pohang Port asked the Daeseung crew over a satellite telephone around 2:35 p.m. Sunday, "Are you being dragged by a North Korean patrol boat?" The crew replied, "Yes." The bureau then asked where the boat was heading. The crew said it was being towed to the North Korean port of Songjin in Hamgyong Province. Then communications were cut off.

The Daeseung, which had been catching squid in the East Sea, reported its location to Pohang Port around 6:30 p.m. Saturday through regular communication channels but failed to report further at 5:35 a.m. Sunday.

A Coast Guard officer said, "We're checking if the boat violated the North's EEZ because the fishing grounds are adjacent to North Korean waters."

Communications were cut off when the boat was approximately 270 miles northeast of Pohang in South Korea and 270 miles east of Hungnam in the North.

"It's unclear whether the Daeseung actually violated the North's EEZ or it was caught while catching fish on the open seas," a government official said. "We expect the North will make an announcement."

The trawler left Pohang on Aug. 1 and was expected back on Sept. 10.

englishnews@chosun.com / Aug. 09, 2010 11:54 KST