S. Korea voices regret over N. Korea’s silence on repatriating fishermen

SEOUL-- South Korea's unification ministry on Friday expressed regret that Pyongyang again failed to respond to Seoul's plan to repatriate five rescued North Korean fishermen.

Seoul notified Pyongyang twice of its plan to send back the crew who were rescued in the East Sea from their boat earlier this week, according to the ministry. The South offered to send the five back via the truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border.

The government said it contacted the North earlier in the day to arrange a handover. The crew's boat was abandoned because it was not repairable.

The fishermen were found drifting on a boat that experienced serious engine problems, Jeong Joon-hee, the ministry spokesman, said. He said all of the North Korean crew expressed a desire to return home.

South Korea has sent back fishermen who drifted into its waters in the past after maker 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

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