Tussle Over Fishermen Continues



North and South Korea continue to dispute the fates of 31 North Koreans—11 men and 20 women--who drifted across the Yellow Sea and into South Korean waters last month.  According to South Korea, 27 have expressed the wish to return to North Korea and 4 have claimed asylum in the South.  KCNA reports that on Thursday the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross sent a message to their Southern counterparts demanding the return of all 31 North Koreans, dismissing the South’s argument that it was respecting the fishermen’s “freedom of will” as “a very unreasonable and rude act” going on to claim that “the south [sic] side has “resorted to a sinister ‘defection operation’” and that if the South did not comply it would be “held wholly accountable for the consequences arising there from.”

South Korea-based media reports that Friday when the South attempted to return the 27 North Koreans who have indicated that they wish to be repatriated, the North refused to open the gate at the truce village of Panmunjom demanding all 31 of its citizens be returned and threatening to  use “every possible means” to get them back.

According to KINU’s 2010 White Paper on Human Rights, the North Korea continues to detain 450  South Korean fishermen.

As for the any means necessary line, well, somehow I don’t think Malcolm X would be all that impressed.

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