South Korea Seizes 2 Chinese Fishing Boats

John Kim, June 14, 2016, 9:42 a.m.

South Korea's military seized two Chinese fishing boats operating illegally in the neutral waters of the Han River estuary between two Koreas, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Tuesday. "South Korea's military police captured two Chinese vessels during their crackdown operation at around 7:10 p.m. and turned the boats over to the Coast Guard," the JCS said in a press release.

The move marks the first time Chinese boats were captured in the neutral waters since the South Korean military kicked off their crackdown in the area late last week. The latest seizure is a continuation of Seoul's joint operation with the United Nations Command launched to deal once and for all with Chinese boats fishing without permission in the tense border area.

The military said it issued verbal warnings to disperse the boats but took action when they did not leave the area, the JCS said. It said the crew of the boats strongly resisted and even threw fishing equipment at troops. The development comes after Seoul reported a growing number of Chinese fishing boats trespassing into the military buffer zone as blue crab season went into full swing. The intrusions have fueled security concerns over the closely monitored front-line region.

Besides crabs, the no man's land where the Han River meets the Yellow Sea is a rich fishing zone that had been left largely untouched since the 1950-53 Korean War. Under the authorization of the UNC, which has regulated the neutral waters since the 1953 inter-Korean armistice, South Korea has deployed a 24-person military police contingent and four fast patrol craft flying the United Nations flag there since Friday. "(The military) plans to continue the operation until Chinese fishing vessels are no longer operating in neutral waters, the JCS said.

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