ROK returns 2 rescued DPRK sailors home

Updated: 2015-07-14 11:58


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SEOUL - The Republic of Korea on Tuesday returned home two sailors of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) despite Pyongyang's call for the repatriation of all five sailors rescued 10 days earlier by Seoul's coast guards.

An official at the ROK's Unification Ministry said by phone that the two DPRK sailors were sent to the DPRK at 11 am (0200 GMT) through the truce village of Panmunjom.

The coast guards of the ROK rescued five DPRK sailors and a fishing boat, which was sinking in waters near the eastern island of Ulleungdo on July 4.

Three of the five wanted to stay in the ROK, while the other two expressed hopes to return to the North, according to the ministry.

The ROK's Red Cross had notified the DPRK counterpart of the rescue and the repatriation of the two DPRK sailors, but the DPRK side had demanded the return of all of the five sailors.

The DPRK sailors' willingness to defect to South Korea should be respected from a humanitarian perspective, the unification ministry has said.