Seoul: North Korea on Saturday said a South Korean fishing boat it seized had "illegally intruded" into its territorial waters in its first direct official response to the incident.
"A patrol ship... captured one ship of South Korea on
July 30 when it illegally intruded deep into the DPRK (North
Korea) territorial waters in the East Sea of Korea,"
Pyongyang`s official Korean Central News Agency said.
"A relevant institution is conducting concrete
investigation into it at present."
The North yesterday faxed Seoul`s government saying it
had seized the 29-ton boat and four crew members and was
investigating the case, according to South Korean officials.
But today`s brief two-sentence dispatch was
Pyongyang`s first direct official reaction.
Seoul says the boat drifted into the North`s waters due
to a malfunctioning navigation system.
Seoul`s Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek expressed
hope yesterday that Pyongyang would return the captured
fishing boat "at an early date" together with its crew
members, insisting the encroachment had been accidental.
Seoul says navigational errors led the squid fishing
vessel to drift into North Korean waters Thursday. It was
seized by a navy patrol boat and taken to a port near the
border with South Korea.