This return of the ROK fishing vessel by the Kim regime appears to have happened so rapidly because of the Vietnamese crew members on board at the fact the ROK has returned various North Korean fishing ships that strayed into South Korean waters when requested:
A fisherman sits on his boat in a small port on the island of Baengnyeong, which lies on the South Korean side of the Northern Limit Line, in the Yellow Sea, April 11, 2014.
North Korea sent back a South Korean fishing boat and its crew that Pyongyang says were detained for crossing the eastern sea border between the rivals.
While the North’s state media said the decision was based on humanitarian grounds, experts said it wasn’t clear whether the repatriation reflected intentions to improve relations with the South amid heightened animosity over Pyongyang’s expanding nuclear program.
The boat’s 10 crew members included not only South Koreans, but also three Vietnamese fishermen, which might have influenced the North’s decision for a quick repatriation, said Hong Min, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification.
Hours after announcing the repatriation plans through the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea sent back the boat and fishermen in designated waters off the peninsula’s eastern coast Friday evening. The fishermen, who arrived at the South Korean port of Sokcho late Friday, appeared to be in good health, a South Korean coast guard official said.
The fishermen will be questioned by South Korean authorities over the circumstances of their detention and their experience in the North, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity citing office rules. The fishermen didn’t leave the ship as officials searched the vessel for nearly two hours in Sokcho before they were escorted to another port in nearby Uljin, where they might be questioned. [Voice of America]
You can read more at the link.
The Pirates of the Yellow Sea were in action again this week and the ROK Coast Guard decided to use warning shots to disperse them:
Two Chinese fishing boats, which were seized while illegally fishing in South Korean waters in the West Sea, arrive in the port of Incheon, west of Seoul, on Nov. 2, 2016. South Korea’s Coast Guard fired warning shots with an M60 machine gun to capture the vessels earlier in the day. No Chinese fishermen were injured and nothing was damaged. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s Coast Guard said Wednesday it has launched an investigation into two Chinese fishing vessels that were captured with the help of a large gun after the fishing boats illegally operated in the country’s exclusive economic zone earlier this week.
The boats were brought into the western port city of Incheon Wednesday afternoon. They were captured a day earlier in the Yellow Sea after the Coast Guard fired a M60 machine gun in warning.
The authorities said the gun was used to fight off some 30 other fishing boats nearby that interfered in the Coast Guard’s attempt to seize the two vessels, with some even threatening to collide with the patrol boats. No Chinese fishermen were injured and nothing was damaged in the process, according to the authorities.
The decision to use the weapon was made to safeguard the officers who had already boarded the Chinese vessels, and would have been cut off if other Chinese vessels succeeded in ramming the patrol boats that took part in the seizure operations, the Coast Guard said.
The Chinese boats had iron bars installed around the hulls and the gates to the steering house were closed to avoid entry, the authorities said.
The Coast Guard said it will interrogate the two captains and some 20 other crew members from the vessels to find out the details of the illegal fishing. It will also look into their relation with the other boats that got away. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link.
Lee Jung-hyun, head of South Korea’s ruling Saenuri Party, looks at various weapons used by Chinese fishermen against the South Korean coast guard’s crackdowns on their illegal fishing inside the South Korean waters during a visit to the Coast Guard in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 21, 2016. (Yonhap)
A Chinese boat carrying the North Korean flag enters the dock of the Korean Coast Guard in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 18, 2016. The boat was seized by the coast guard the previous day, while catching fish illegally after crossing a western inter-Korean maritime border into the South Korean side. Cash-strapped North Korea has reportedly sold the rights to its western territorial waters to Chinese fishermen. Chinese illegal fishing is a chronic headache to South Korea. (Yonhap)
The Incheon Coast Guard conducts a firing drill against violent Chinese fishermen and boats catching fish illegally in the South Korean waters off Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 13, 2016. Six patrol boats joined the drill, which followed the government’s recent decision to use force and firearms against violence by illegal Chinese fishermen. The stern measure came about after a Coast Guard speedboat was sunken by a Chinese boat which rear-ended it in defiance of a crackdown on illegal fishing inside the South Korean waters on Oct. 7. (Photo courtesy of Coast Guard) (Yonhap)
The gloves may finally be coming off after the sinking of a ROK Coast Guard speed boat by the illegal Chinese fishing boats this past week:
China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday asked South Korea to stay calm in dealing with Chinese boats illegally fishing in the neighboring country’s waters a day after Seoul said it will be more firm with lawbreakers.
South Korea’s decision to strengthen law enforcement, even authorizing the use of firearms, is not a fundamental solution to the problem and will only cause more trouble, said Chinese ministry spokesman Geng Shuang during a regular press briefing.
The remark was made a day after South Korea’s Coast Guard said it plans to actively use force, including crew-served weapons, against boats and fishermen that violently interfere with the authorities’ execution of their duties.
The announcement by the Seoul government came a few days after a 4.5-ton Coast Guard speedboat was sunk Friday during an operation against illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea when a 100-ton Chinese boat intentionally rear-ended it.
The Chinese ministry, however, said the Chinese boat was legitimately operating in a zone where fishing was allowed.
South Korea should refrain from using excessive force that could harm the safety of Chinese nationals, the spokesman added. [Yonhap]
What would the Chinese government do if the ROK had fishing boats parked right off the coast of Hainan or the Paracel Islands in southern China and their coast guard personnel were attacked? I am willing to bet they would not show the restraint the ROK Coast Guard has so far shown.
The ROK government is under increasing pressure to do something about the increasing number of illegal Chinese fishing boats that continue to violate South Korea’s sovereign waters:
The government is under pressure to come up with stronger measures to stop Chinese fishermen from operating in Korean waters illegally.
The calls come three days after a Coast Guard speed boat sank after being rammed by a Chinese fishing vessel.
The 4.5-ton boat was one of two Korean vessels dispatched to waters near Socheong Island where 40 Chinese boats were fishing illegally. The Chinese boat weighed about 400 tons.
Rep. Chung Jin-suk, the floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, demanded stern action from the administration. “The government should find the Chinese vessels that escaped and bring them to justice,” he said.
Noting it is about maritime sovereignty, Chung said, “It is not news that Chinese fishermen use steel pipes and knives against coastguards during crackdowns. I wonder if the Korean authorities have become powerless.”
He said his party would consider stationing more Coast Guard officers in the West Sea.
Rep. Woo Sang-ho, the floor leader of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea, echoed Chung. “The violent, illegal activities by Chinese fishing boats are beyond a tolerable level. I would say they are not fishermen but pirates.” [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but maybe the ROK Coast Guard should treat them as pirates and sink them on the spot if they don’t comply with demands?
Maybe the ROK is taking the approach President Duerte takes for drug dealers and applying it to Chinese fishermen who continue to plague the country’s waters:
Three Chinese fishermen were killed on Thursday in a fire that broke out on their boat when South Korean coastguard men trying to apprehend them for illegal fishing threw flash grenades into a room they were hiding in, a South Korean official said.
Disputes over illegal fishing are an irritant in relations between China and U.S. ally South Korea, even as their economic relations grow close. They also share concern about North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programs.
The three men were believed to have suffocated, a coastguard official in the South Korean port city of Mokpo said, adding that the incident was being investigated.
The fire broke out in the boat’s steering room, the official, who is not authorized to speak with media and declined to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.
South Korean authorities were questioning the 14 surviving crew and coastguard members involved in the operation, the official added.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with Seoul about the incident.
Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing Beijing was also urging South Korea to hold a “comprehensive and objective” investigation into the incident, along with China. [Reuters via reader tip]
You can read more at the link, but definitely compared to the past where these fishermen having actually murdered Korean Coast Guard personnel it is clear ROK authorities have taken a more aggressive stance to stop them.
Korean Coast Guard Kills Chinese Fishermen During Raid
This is actually a pretty good idea which also makes me wonder if it can also help deter North Korean submarine activity as well in the area?:
North Korea on Monday condemned the artificial reef structures being placed in the West Sea by South Korea to control Chinese illegal fishing activities, calling it part of Seoul’s military provocations against Pyongyang’s maritime demarcation line.
In March, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) said it will set up a total of eight artificial reef structures in the eastern waters off Baengnyeongdo, Daecheongdo and Socheongdo, all located south of the northern limit line (NLL), to prevent Chinese fishing vessels from intruding into the South Korean waters.
Drawn by the U.S.-led United Nations Command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, the NLL is the de facto sea border between the two Koreas, although the North has not recognized it as such.
According to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the West Sea Fleet of the Navy of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) said South Korea’s new artificial structures can only be seen a encroachments on its waters.
“The fish-breeding reef, structure weighing dozens of tons, is being set up in the sensitive waters which witnessed three skirmishes in the past, a fact clearly showing the provocative nature,” KCNA said.
Such provocative acts have revealed Seoul’s “sinister intention” to spark a military conflict in the world’s most dangerous waters, the North’s state-run media outlet claimed. [Yonhap]