North Korean fishing boats have occasionally drifted into South Korean waters, and South Korea has usually accepted those who chose to resettle and repatriated others who wished to return home.
A trio of North Korean fishermen slaughtered 16 fellow crew members - together with their captain, officers stated Thursday. While fishing in waters near Russian Federation and elsewhere, the two men collaborated with another crew member and killed the captain, who they said had abused them.
The pair had been deported due to the they had been "atrocious criminals", Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Sang-min mentioned. But the third fisherman was arrested near the port, and the two fled North Korea using the same boat, the Unification Ministry said, citing the government investigation.
The three then killed the other 15 crew members to cover up the crime and dumped all bodies overboard.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo answers a lawmaker's question about North Koreans' deportation during a defense committee meeting at the National Assembly in Seoul, South Korea, on November 7, 2019.
The unification ministry in Seoul told the BBC that "when we couldn't trust their intention of defection" so they decided not to allow the "serious criminals" to stay.
In a sign of the deep-seated rancor between Seoul and Tokyo, more South Koreans would back their neighbor to the north if it went to war with Japan, according to a new survey by a state-sponsored think tank in Seoul.
Joo Seong-ha, a prominent North Korean defector-turned journalist who lives in Seoul, supports the decision to deport the fishermen.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will hold the 51st Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) next Friday at the headquarters of the South Korean defense ministry in Seoul.
North Korean refugees are first interrogated by South Korean authorities to ensure they are not spies.
Japan's export restrictions came in an apparent protest against the South Korean top court's rulings that ordered some of Japanese companies to pay reparation to the South Korean victims who were forced into hard labor without pay during the 1910-45 Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.
There were 1,127 defections from North to South in 2017, according to data from Seoul. That is down from a peak of 2,914 in 2009.