North Korean Vessel Stranded Near Maritime Border Rescued by Authorities, Says JCS

SEOUL — A North Korean vessel that was stranded near the de facto inter-Korean maritime border in the East Sea was rescued by North Korean authorities, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) disclosed on Monday.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the 10-meter-long vessel was first detected by a South Korean patrol ship at 2:16 p.m. Sunday. It was found drifting in waters 200 kilometers east of the coastal town of Jejin and approximately 3 km north of the eastern Northern Limit Line (NLL). JCS spokesperson Lee Sung-joon revealed in a press briefing that North Korean authorities towed away the drifting vessel last night.

The individuals on board the vessel, believed to be a commercial ship, indicated they had been adrift for 10 days and sought to return to North Korea. They also requested food and water. In response, the South Korean military supplied food and water on "humanitarian grounds" and alerted North Korean authorities of the situation via the United Nations Command and international maritime communication channels.

Lee stated that the South Korean military made the operation public to facilitate the ship's rescue and avert any accidental clashes between the two Koreas during the humanitarian aid delivery. A military official clarified that the individuals on board had no intention of defecting, aiming to ensure they would not face repercussions upon their return to North Korea.

The rescue comes five days after another North Korean vessel carrying suspected defectors crossed the eastern NLL into South Korean waters, triggering an ongoing joint investigation into their motives for entering South Korea.

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