North Korea has seized numerous South Korean vessels over the years, but this incident comes during South Korean naval exercises in the Yellow Sea that North Korea has denounced as a 'provocation.'
Seoul, South Korea
North Korea has seized a South Korean fishing boat that may have intruded accidentally into the North’s exclusive economic zone off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s Coast Guard said Sunday.
North Korea has seized numerous South Korean vessels over the years, but this incident comes during South Korean naval exercises in the Yellow Sea. North Korea has denounced the exercises as a “provocation” and threatened to answer “fire with fire.” A South Korean admiral has said South Koreans will “immediately counterattack” if fired on.
The question is how long North Korean authorities will hold the four South Korean members of the crew of the fishing boat while tensions are high surrounding the exercises. The crew also includes three Chinese whom North Korea is expected to release in view of the North’s close ties with China.
“It complicates things for North Korea for the crew to include Chinese and South Koreans,” said Mingi Hyun, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for Maritime Strategy. “They’re going to have to treat them equally.”
Nonetheless, he said, “If the boat did cross into North Korea’s exclusive economic zone, that’s reason to hold them.”