South Korea deported two North Koreans on Thursday after finding they had killed 16 fellow fishermen on a boat and fled to South Korea across the sea border over the weekend.
The two North Koreans, both men in their 20s, were found aboard a boat south of the eastern sea border last Saturday, according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry. It said a South Korean investigation later found the two had killed 16 colleagues aboard a fishing boat and escaped to South Korea.
Details of the alleged killings weren’t immediately known.
South Korea has a policy of accepting North Koreans who want to resettle in the South to avoid political oppression and economic poverty at home. But a Seoul Unification Ministry spokesman, Lee Sang-min, said South Korea has decided to send the two fishermen back to North Korea because they allegedly committed “grave” crimes and couldn’t be protected by the South Korean government.
Lee said South Korea expelled the men to North Korea via an inter-Korean border village on Thursday. He said Seoul had informed Pyongyang on Tuesday of their planned deportations and that North Korea on Wednesday responded it would accept them.
Lee said Seoul has determined that accepting the two would threaten South Korea’s own public safety.