S. Korea sends back home 2 rescued N.K. fishermen
SEOUL-- South Korea on Friday repatriated two of the four North Korean fishermen recently rescued in waters off its east coast as the remainder expressed hope for defection to the South, government officials said.
South Korea handed them over on a vessel across the de facto maritime border in the East Sea, according to the Ministry of Unification.
North Korea has yet to show any reaction to the other two North Koreans who were allowed to stay in South Korea as they voiced a willingness for defection. Previously, Pyongyang condemned Seoul for not sending back all rescued sailors, threatening to take stern actions.
Last week, South Korea's Coast Guard rescued one sailor on a boat and three others on a different vessel drifting in the East Sea. The defectors were among the three fishermen salvaged Saturday.
"The government handled the issue on humanitarian grounds and respected their will as we do customarily," the ministry said in a statement Thursday.
It marked the first time since July 2015, when three out of the five rescued North Korean fishermen expressed wishes for defection.
South Korea has sent back fishermen who drifted into its waters in the past after making certain they did not wish to defect.
South and North Korea are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Source: Yonhap News Agency