In the News – Rogue N.Korean Soldiers Suspected in Hijack of Chinese Boats
Three Chinese fishing boats that were seized by a small North Korean Navy boat on the West Sea on May 8 returned to Dalian Port at around 7 a.m. on Monday. The fishermen were given a health check immediately after they arrived. Three complained of extreme dizziness, and three others showed clear signs of external injuries, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Twenty eight Chinese fishermen had been abducted, not 29 as reported earlier.
The owners of the Chinese fishing boats said the crew were taken to the coast of North Hwanghae Province in North Korea. They were kept in a dark room all day and given just two bowls of gruel a day. They were beaten with sticks or metal rods if they failed to obey orders, and the food and supplies in their ships were plundered. Just before they were released, the captors erased the navigational records on the GPS devices on the fishing boats, the fishermen said.
On Sunday the North Korean Foreign Ministry said the fishermen were returned with no strings attached. Initially, the captors had demanded a ransom of 90,000 yuan (around W160 million) per vessel.
“That was something that should not happen between the two countries. We understand the complaints of the Chinese people,” a North Korean official was quoted as saying by China’s Global Times.
In the News – North Korea Releases Chinese Fisherman
BEIJING—A group of Chinese fishermen apparently detained by North Koreans nearly two weeks ago has been released, Chinese state media reported Sunday.
The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Jiang Yaxian, Chinese counselor to North Korea, as saying the detained vessels and fishermen were on their way back to China.
The Xinhua report provided few details about the fishermen’s detention, and it remained unclear why the vessels were detained in the first place and whether Chinese authorities had agreed to pay a ransom in exchange for their release. Continue reading →
In the News – North Koreans accused of holding Chinese fishermen for ransom
BEIJING — Chinese fishing boat owners have accused the North Korea military of taking 29 Chinese fishermen on three boats captive and holding them for ransom.
The seizing of the fishing boats has opened up a rare public rift between North Korea and its most important ally. Chinese ship owners complain that the demands for ransom are tantamount to piracy, little different that what is happening off the coast of Somalia.
According to the ship owners, four boats from the port of Dalian were accosted at sea May 8 in what they claimed are Chinese waters, about 50 miles off of the Chinese coast. They were then forced at gunpoint to sail into North Korean waters, they said. One boat was released immediately for reasons that remain unclear, while the three other ship owners have been negotiating for the return of their vessels and crew. They said North Koreans were demanding up to $65,000 for the return of each ship. Continue reading →