Wednesday, October 25, 2006
A South Korean Navy patrol boat rescued a stranded North Korean rowboat and towed it to safety in the Yellow Sea Monday morning, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. In stormy and foggy seas, the rowboat crossed the western sea border and drifted 14.8 kilometers (9.2 miles) southwest of Yeonpyeong Island, according to the agency. The authorities returned it to the North at the boater's request, it said. "The North Korean resident on the boat expressed his wish to return to the North. We will do so after consulting with their relevant authorities," a joint chiefs official said. The western sea border was not clearly delineated after the 1950-53 Korean War. The U.S.-led United Nations Command drew up a de facto border, the Northern Limit Line, but North Korea does not recognize it. The area was the scene of two bloody naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002.