December 16, 2016 11:40
A dozen North Korean fishermen starved to death when their fishing boats went adrift on the East Sea for several days but eight were rescued, the Unification Ministry said Thursday.
Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told reporters that all eight want to go home, but the North has not yet responded to attempts to contact it.
"Weather permitting we plan to hand them over on the East Sea at around 9 a.m. on Monday," Jeong added.
The tragedy coincides with a massive push from the North Korean regime to increase fishing revenues as international sanctions bite.
North Korean media reported that leader Kim Jong-un visited fisheries to show his support and urged fishermen to increase their yield, comparing their piles of frozen fish to "gold ingots."
"North Korea's fishing industry is emerging as an important source of hard currency and accounts for 10 percent of the North's exports," Jeong said. This means North Korean fishermen are increasingly pushing themselves to the limit under pressure from the regime.
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