Nine North Koreans defected by boat in Yellow Sea

The latest in a string of defections could further complicate inter-Korean relations.

Seoul: A group of nine North Koreans
crossed the tense western sea border into South Korea last
week, officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of
defections that could further complicate inter-Korean

The defectors waved their hands aboard an engineless
boat and expressed their wish to defect last Saturday when
spotted by South Korea`s military, the officials said on the
condition of anonymity.

The nine North Koreans include three adult men, two
adult women and four children, suggesting that they may be
family members.

The North Koreans are being questioned by South Korean
officials about their motives and their defection route, the
officials said.

The development comes amid lingering tensions over the
North`s two deadly attacks on the South last year that killed
a total of 50 South Koreans, mostly soldiers.

"The defection could have negative influences on
inter-Korean relations," said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea
expert at Dongguk University in Seoul. He also said it could
illustrate the severity of chronic food shortages and economic
difficulties in the North.

The impoverished North has vowed to build a prosperous
and powerful nation next year, the centennial of the birth of
the country`s late founder, Kim Il-sung, but it has made a
series of appeals for food assistance from the international


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