South Korean fishing vessel held by North: coast guard

SEOUL Sun Aug 8, 2010 8:09am EDT

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean fishing vessel with seven people aboard is being held by North Korea after sailing into the North's exclusive economic waters off the east coast, the South Korean coast guard said on Sunday.

Simmering tensions between the two Koreas have risen a notch in recent days with the staging of military drills by the South off the west coast, infuriating Pyongyang which threatened "physical retaliation" for the exercise.

"We have found out that our fishing vessel is being investigated by North Korean officials in the presumed North Korea exclusive economic waters in northern East Sea," the South Korean coast guard said in a statement.

"The South Korean government, according to international law, wants the swift resolution to the matter and the safe return of its vessel and its fisherman."

Yonhap news agency reported the vessel had advised the coast guard it was being taken by a North Korean patrol to a port in the communist country.

The two sides are still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

South Korea is due to complete a five-day exercise on Monday near a tense maritime border off the west coast, the site of the sinking of one of the South's warships in March.

Tensions heightened on the peninsula following the torpedoing of the Cheonan corvette, which killed 46 sailors. The South, with the backing of Washington, blamed the North for the sinking.

North Korea has repeatedly denied any involvement.

China's Xinhua news agency said the boat carried a crew of four South Koreans and three Chinese, which may have a bearing on North Korea's response to the latest territorial spat.

China is North Korea's only major ally and host of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

(Reporting by Suh Kyung-min and Jeremy Laurence; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (25)
Williamfree wrote:
This is one of the few cases in which I believe North Korea. We (the West) have a history of false flag operations in order to build public outrage against our military foes. The CIA is getting sloppy.

Aug 08, 2010 11:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
dgbee wrote:
Harry S. Truman–what is your exit strategy in Korea. A conservative American who has stood by your promise of freedom from tyranny by despotic regimes now wants to know, as there are those in my country today who feel this right of freedom is not so universal nor precious.

Aug 08, 2010 11:17am EDT  --  Report as abuse
treeburner wrote:
Too bad the N. Koreans will never know what “We the People ” think. All they’ll hear is jabber from lackeys who are controlled by big military contractors who just LOVE war because it’s so profitable. We stupid Americans will vote in a new group of liars, controlled by same, because we’re so far removed from what THEY are actually doing ! Voting for anyone is like playing a game of chess and only being allowed to see about 1/3 of the board. Single issue voters are the worst type of voters, the “Save the Baby” or “Kill the Baby” crowds. They don’t think that that person telling them he’s pro life or pro death will be anti-American. Most of them got elected because of ties to military contractors. Any time I try to express this opinion to my conservative friends, their eyes glaze over or they try to tell me that being anti military is un-American. Anyone with any amount of education should be able to see that ALL wars are fought over “economic” issues. And really, how hard is it to start a war, even these days, just mention this country or that is developing or has WMD’s and presto, the shooting starts. I believe Saddam had WMD’s, I believe we found them, I believe we sold them to him and that’s why it was never in the news!

Aug 08, 2010 12:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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