Seoul deports two fugitive fishermen from the North, accused of killing 16 members of their crew

The two, in their 20s, first killed the commander, who treated them harshly, and then the rest of the crew.  For South Korea, repatriating them is a matter of "security".  The two risk the death penalty.

 


Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Seoul deported two fishermen from the North, after the two confessed to killing 16 members of their crew and fleeing to the South. The two were sent back to North Korea now face the death penalty.

The two fishermen, both in their 20s, were transported north through the village of Panmunjom, near the demilitarized zone.  This is the first deportation to the North through Panmunjom.

Unification spokesman Lee Sang-min explained that "We decided to deport them after determining that accepting them to our society could pose a threat to the lives and safety of our people and that such criminals cannot be recognized as refugees under international law,".

The Seoul government also plans to ship the North Korean fishing boat to the North.  During an investigation, the North Koreans confessed that they and another crew member first killed the captain of the fishing boat in late October out of anger over his harsh treatment before killing the other protesting crew members one by one later.

At first, from the Russian seas, they intended to return home.  But when the fishing boat arrived in North Korea, one of them was captured by the police.  The other two then, frightened, fled and sought asylum in the South.

There is no bilateral agreement between South and North Korea for the extradition of criminals.  The two fishermen risk severe penalties, even the death penalty.

In the South, at least 33,247 North Koreans, mostly women, are refugees.  Between January and September 2019 Seoul welcomed 771 refugees.  In 2018 it received 1137.

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