SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said Friday that the ongoing peace process with North Korea must be kept alive so as to turn the tension-filled waters around the western sea border into a "sea of peace and prosperity."

Lee made the remark during a ceremony marking Coast Guard Day, noting that there has been a series of deadly naval skirmishes and other clashes between the South and the North around the Northern Limit Line, a de facto sea border.

"Fortunately, a peace atmosphere has been hanging over the West Sea this year. We must make sure to keep this peace opportunity alive. The South and the North must pool wisdom and work together to turn the West Sea from a sea of conflict and bloodshed into a sea of peace and prosperity," Lee said.

Lee also pledged to take steps to upgrade the Coast Guard into a more responsive and capable agency by beefing up their disaster management, rescue equipment and expertise.

The Coast Guard came under massive public criticism for bungling its initial response to a deadly ferry sinking in 2014 that killed more than 300 people, mostly high school students.

Source: Yonhap News Agency