North Korea has seized a South Korean fishing boat in the East Sea, the coast guard here said Sunday, as tension seethes between the divided Koreas over the South's naval drills along the western coast.
"It has been found that the Daeseung crew is being interrogated by North Korean authorities," a coast guard official said. A crew member said "yes" when South Korean maritime authorities asked him via satellite Sunday afternoon whether his boat was being towed by a North Korea patrol boat, according to the coast guard.
The 41-ton boat was carrying four South Koreans and three Chinese when it was seized, the coast guard said. The unidentified crew member said his boat was being towed to the northeastern port of Songjin when he last communicated with the South.
The Daeseung had left the South Korean port city of Pohang on the east coast Aug. 1 and was scheduled to return home Sept. 10, according to port authorities.
The Daeseung had left the South Korean port city of Pohang on the east coast Aug. 1 and was scheduled to return home Sept. 10, according to port authorities. The boat had apparently been operating in a joint fishing area off the North's eastern area of Musudan-dong before it was seized, a defense source here said.
South Korea and the U.S. recently held massive naval drills south of the East Sea border between the Koreas, demonstrating their force after they accused Pyongyang of sinking a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in March, killing 46 sailors.
South Korea is mobilizing some 4,500 troops for the drills it has been conducting off the west coast of the peninsula since Thursday. The North, which denies its role in the sinking, has threatened "strong physical retaliation."