The Korean Coast Guard on Wednesday defended the use of rubber bullets after one illegal Chinese fisherman was killed during a raid. It said the man, identified as Jiang (44), was among Chinese fishermen who were brandishing knives and other weapons to stop commandos from boarding their vessel.
Jiang died after a rubber bullet hit him in the chest on Monday.
"It was an accident that occurred in the justified execution of the law," said Kang Sung-hee, head of Coast Guard in Mokpo. "There is no change in our policy of dealing firmly with armed resistance."
Another Coast Guard officer said, "Even though they know that maritime police carry guns, many Chinese fishermen put up fierce resistance to arrest. The latest accident involved a rubber bullet, but maritime police have no choice but to use them and can even use pistols if necessary."
Kang said officers "used rubber bullets to control Chinese sailors who brandished knives and other deadly weapons, and Jiang was injured in the process and lost his life."
He added that the Chinese fishing boat was equipped with metal spikes on its sides and its crew wielded knives, saws and metal pipers to prevent commandos from approaching it.
The injured Chinese fisherman was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation and rushed to hospital by helicopter, but died the same evening, according to Kang.
The Korean Coast Guard said it reviewed video footage of the crackdown which shows Jiang wielding a 60 cm saw. Other Chinese fishermen were wielding long spears. The Coast Guard arrested the other crewmembers and plans to indict them for obstruction of justice.