S. Korea sends home 8 rescued N. Korean crewmen

SEOUL-- South Korea sent home Thursday eight North Korean crewmen who were rescued in its waters last week, a unification ministry official said.

South Korea's Coast Guard rescued a ship carrying the crewmen on June 23, which was drifting astray near Ulleung Island in the East Sea due to an engine breakdown. All the crew members expressed their wish to be repatriated.

"Around 9:20 a.m. today, the ship and the eight crewmen were transferred to the North Korean side across a transfer point in the East Sea," the ministry official said. "A North Korean tug boat and patrol ship were waiting there to take the ship and its crewmen," the official noted.

A day earlier South Korea communicated the repatriation plan to the North through the South Korea-based United Nations Command's armistice commission, which is in charge of supervising the implementation of the inter-Korean Armistice.

South Korea has rescued North Korean ships gone astray on a total of six occasions so far this year, with 21 of all rescued North Korean crewmen sent back home while two were allowed to stay in the South, according to the ministry.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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