Chinese Boats Seized by North Koreans in Rare Public Spat
North Korean officials have demanded payment before they will release Chinese fishing boats with a total of 29 men on board, Chinese media reported on Thursday, in a rare public spat between the neighbors and longtime allies.
The Chinese owners of the boats said they were seized by a North Korean gunboat on May 8 in the Yellow Sea, between China and North Korea, the Beijing News reported.
The owners said the vessels were fishing in Chinese waters. North Korea has not made any public comment on the case.
The North Koreans holding the boats and sailors demanded payment of 1.2 million yuan ($189,800) for releasing them, then cut their price to 900,000 yuan and set a deadline of Thursday, Zhang Dechang, owner of one of the captured boats told the newspaper, which called the demand a “ransom”.
The 29 sailors who were on board the boats are now in North Korea, said one captured seaman in a call with an owner, the newspaper added.