The Russian Border Guard captured two North Korean vessels and arrested 161 sailors, who were poaching off the Russian coast in the Sea of Japan.
Three Russian border guards were injured in a clash with the foreign poachers, the FSB Public Relations Center said.
One of the North Korean sailors died from his wounds.
“Having resisted the border control officers, six North Korean citizens received injuries of varying severity, one of which subsequently died, unfortunately,” said Vladimir Krasnov, head of the Russian FSB border control inquiry in the Primorsky Territory.
The incident occurred in the area of the banks of Quito-Yamato in the exclusive economic zone of Russia. The military discovered two North Korean schooners and 11 motorboats engaged in illegal fishing.
One of the schooners was detained at first, prompting the second one to open fire on the Russian vessels. The first vessel had a crew of 21, while the one that opened fire had 45 people on board.
Including the ones from the motorboats, a total of 161 people were detained, there are some injuries and no deaths.
Investigative actions with fishermen from the DPRK who attacked Russian border guards in the Sea of Japan will be conducted on board ships and in the presence of the Consul General of the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea, TASS was told by the FSB.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the matter:
“On September 17, an armed attack on an inspection group of Russian border guards by North Korean fishermen engaged in poaching in Russia’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan took place.
Chin Jong Hyup, Charge d’Affaires of the DPRK in Russia, was called to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Director of the First Department of Asia G.V. Zinoviev expressed serious concern to him in connection with the incident. Chin Jeong Hyu-poo was told that the Russian side was taking decisive steps to apprehend the perpetrators of unlawful acts. They demanded that the Korean side take comprehensive measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
Jin Jung Hyup promised to report immediately to Pyongyang.”
The problem of poaching in waters near the Russian borders remains. In 2018, coastguards revealed more than eight thousand violations, 39 Russian and foreign vessels were detained, as well as 1,037 small vessels, of which 27 were confiscated.
At the same time, the FSB notes a significant decrease in “under-flags” – poaching vessels with Russian crews, but under the flags of other countries.
on October 16, 2016, the FSB special forces opened fire on the command of the North Korean “Dae Young 10”, whose team also attacked the inspection team. One border guard was injured. As a result of return fire, one fisherman was killed, eight more were injured.
In 2019, poachers from North Korea began to poach for Pacific squid in Russia’s waters on an unprecedented scale. In early September 2019, more than 500 North Korean vessels took refuge in the coastal bay of Olga for the duration of the Typhoon Linlin (this is permitted by law). However, after waiting for the storm, the schooners did not return back to the open sea, but set about illegal fishing in the Russian waters.
After the typhoon, on September 12th, Russian border guards reported that they had detained more than 250 fishermen and 16 North Korean schooners for illegal fishing on the beam of the village of Preobrazhenie. More than a hundred Korean ships gathered there, following the migrating Pacific squid. The FSB was even forced to send additional ships to Primorye from the shores of neighboring Sakhalin Oblast.
These actions are, to a large degree, due to the harsh economic sanctions being imposed on North Korea.
“The economic sanctions that were imposed on North Korea in 2017 and which have not been lifted so far pose a very acute issue of survival for the citizens of this country. Naturally, fishermen go to any tricks to get a valuable catch, and do not always allow Russian border guards to confiscate it without resistance, ”Kim Yong Un, a leading researcher at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences told VZGLYAD. “The DPRK authorities are trying to show loyalty to Russia. I think that they will formally apologize. Now the time for consultations will come, the parties will undertake diplomatic efforts and, as a result, the North Korean sailors will be released, as has happened several times,” Kim suggested.
In July 2019, a Russian fishing boat was detained by North Korean authorities for allegedly violating entry regulations. The boat was subsequently released, with all of its sailors.
The 15 Russian and two South Korean crew members of the Xiang Hai Lin 8 were detained on July 17, according to the Russian embassy in Pyongyang.
In a Facebook post on July 28th, the embassy said the “coordinated work of the Russian diplomatic agency” led to the release.
MSM, at the same time claims that this is a major diplomatic incident, despite Aleksei Maslov, director of the Center for Strategic Studies of China and one of Russia’s foremost East Asia experts saying that this is simply a piracy issue.
According to him, “unfortunately, North Korean piracy and illegal fishing have always existed in one form or another within our territorial waters.”
At the same time, he said that Russian authorities had allowed North Korean fishermen to poach for years, but a 161-person poaching expedition was too much.
“I think [our] patience snapped, our border guards began enforcing the law, and DPRK realized that the warnings are over.”
Maslov furthermore explained the obvious: that Moscow “firmly maintains that there are political relations with North Korea and then there’s piracy… we have our own interests vis-à-vis North Korea, and there is no reason to spoil them over pirates.”
The National Interest refused to believe that the North Korean government wasn’t in on the entire plan.