Three North Korean ships, two of which were fishing boats, have been discovered in succession by South Korean military and police, while they were adrift within South Korea’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the East Sea.
Seven to eight crew members from the three ships were rescued. Rescued crew members testified that a number of their fellow crew members died of hunger while their boats were adrift. All rescued sailors were found to have been in severe malnutrition. The ships are believed to have set sail around September or October. The ships either had their engines out of order or were not equipped with a motor.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service and the Defense Security Command are questioning the crew members whether they have intention to defect to the South.
One crew member strongly demanded that he be repatriated to the North, and the authorities plan to repatriate him via the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom soon. Whether the other crew members have intention to defect the North remains unknown.
Earlier, on Nov. 30, a wooden North Korean boat was discovered in waters near Kyoto, Japan, and eight completely decomposed bodies were found in the boat.