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north korea and south korea relation


In a rare move, North Korea has announced it will release a South Korean fishing boat it seized six days ago for “illegally” sailing into its waters, state media report.

The fishing vessel and its crew will be released “at the military boundary in the East Sea”, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported.

The decision was made after the crew apologized for the “offence”, it added.

North Korea’s decision comes at a time of heightened tension in the region with both sides running a series of military exercises.

It said the release of the fishing vessel on October 27 follows an admission of wrongdoing from those on board, who it said had “repeatedly asked for leniency”.

An investigation had “proved” that the fishermen had entered North Korean waters on October 21.

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A South Korean government spokesman said it was a “relief” that the crew would be returned.

It is not uncommon for fishing boats from both sides to drift into waters not under their country’s control.

In August 2010, a South Korean fishing boat went missing in the Sea of Japan and was temporarily detained by North Korea.

North Korea said it was seized because it was poaching in its exclusive economic zone.

The latest incident comes amid ongoing military exercises in the region as North Korea seeks to realize its nuclear ambitions and the South deploys a US-backed missile defense system.


China has called on North Korea to suspend its tests of missile and nuclear technology to “defuse a looming crisis”.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that in exchange, the US and South Korea could halt annual joint military drills, which consistently infuriate North Korea.

The appeal comes after North Korea fired four ballistic missiles on March 6, breaking international sanctions.

In response, the US began rolling out a missile defense system in South Korea.

Speaking on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary meeting, Wang Yi said the Korean peninsula was like “two accelerating trains, coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way”.

“Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” he asked.

A mutual halt of military operations would be the first step towards easing tensions and reopening negotiations, he said.

Three of the North Korean missiles came down inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on Monday, prompting Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump to say the region had entered “a new stage of threat”.

In a unanimous statement, the UN Security Council earlier strongly condemned the launch, calling it a grave violation of North Korea’s international obligations, which risked destabilizing the region.

The Un Security Council, which will meet on March 8, also threatened to “take further significant measures” against North Korea, which could imply efforts to introduce a fresh round of sanctions.

Meanwhile, the US has again sought to reassure Beijing over deployment of an extensive missile defense system in South Korea.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) is designed to protect South Korea, and US troops based there, from North Korean missile attacks. The first elements of it were moved into place on March 7, hours after North Korea’s latest launch.