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S. Korea plans to return 27 of 31 DPRK fishermen

03-04-2011 13:55 BJT

SEOUL, March 4 (Xinhua) -- Seoul is planning to return 27 members of a group of 31 fishermen from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) who accidentally crossed over into South Korean waters in February, the Ministry of Unification said Friday.

The ministry, however, said that whether the return would go as planned on Friday morning is still not clear, as the DPRK has not yet notified the South of its intention to receive only 27 members of its people.

After four of the 31 fishermen expressed their wish to stay in the South on Thursday, DPRK issued a statement asking South Korea to send back all 31 members and a boat seized by the South, its official Korean Central News Agency reported.

Despite the DPRK's request, the unification ministry in Seoul plans to return the remaining 27 members of the group through Panmunjom, a truce village that sits on the border between the two sides, and send the fishing boat back through the waters off the west coast on Friday.

The ministry also denied the DPRK's accusation that Seoul forced the crewmen to defect. The 11 men and 20 women arrived off Yeonpyeong Island on Feb. 5 and were seized by the South's navy. Pyongyang three days later called for their repatriation.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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