August 10, 2010 09:46
It remains unclear whether a South Korean fishing boat seized by a North Korean patrol on Sunday had strayed into the North's territorial waters or their so-called exclusive economic zone, but there is speculation that the North seized the vessel and crew to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations with South Korea.
A Unification Ministry official said this would be the first case where a South Korean ship that was seized in the North Korean EEZ was dragged to a North Korean port.
North Korea has not yet officially informed South Korea of the seizure. The North fired around 130 artillery rounds near the maritime border in the West Sea on Monday.
A government source agreed that it is rare for a North Korean patrol boat to venture out so far into the EEZ to seize a South Korean fishing boat. "Maybe North Korea seized the boat to exact concessions from the South Korean government," the source added.
It may have been targeting to trawler specifically. Since 2002, Chinese boats have been fishing in North Korea's EEZ in the East Sea in summer, and the patrol boat could have seized the Daeseung while monitoring Chinese boats. North Korea is becoming increasingly desperate as international sanctions choke off the regime’s money supply and has on previous occasions taken hostages for an advantage in negotiations or to use as bargaining chips, but it remains unclear what it intends to do with the crew of the Daeseung.
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