SEOUL – North Korea has seized a Russian fishing vessel and detained its crew for allegedly violating entry regulations, Russia’s embassy in Pyongyang said on Wednesday.
The vessel was captured on July 17 and the crew members aboard the ship – 15 Russians and two South Koreans – are being held in a hotel in the city of Wonsan, located on North Korea’s east coast, where the ship has also been moored.
In an announcement on its Facebook page, the Russian embassy identified the boat as Xiangheilin-8, owned by the Northeast Fishery Company based in Nevelsk, Russia.
In its statement, the embassy said representatives of the North Korean foreign ministry have been told that the boat was seized for “violating the rules of entry and stay in (North Korea).”
According to a statement by the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the 300-ton vessel set sail from Sokcho, along the eastern coast of South Korea, on July 16. It was headed for Zarubino along the eastern Russian coast, located around 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the North Korean border.
During the voyage, the ship suffered an engine failure and ended up in North Korean waters, said the ministry in Seoul.
The statement said it was working to coordinate with Moscow and Pyonyang to secure the crew’s release.
Russian consular officials met the crew members on Monday and said they were healthy.
The Russian embassy said it was in close contact with the North Korean authorities and was taking all necessary measures to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
Pyongyang and Moscow share good relations dating back to the founding of North Korea under Soviet patronage in 1948.
The leaders of both countries, Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin, held a summit in Russia’s eastern port city of Vladivostok in April, where they vowed to strengthen bilateral ties.