Date: October 24, 2023 Time: 12:05:45
As South Korean media reported, citing sources from the local Ministry of Defense and the Coast Guard (CCS), the incident occurred at 07:10 local time. 11 kilometers from the South Korean coastal city of Sokcho, local fishermen discovered, as they themselves reported, “a strange boat,” which they notified the military and the Security and Defense Forces. After receiving a signal, a South Korean ship set out to intercept the ship. On the ship were four DPRK nationals who, according to a statement from a ROK government source, “expressed their desire to remain in South Korea.”
The authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan are currently interrogating the detainees and learning other details of their arrival in the country. Some media outlets criticized the actions of the local military and the SDF, pointing out that the ship was discovered by accident by civilian fishermen, and not by Navy ships, which are supposed to protect the maritime border. In response to this, the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan noted that “they were already tracking the movement of some foreign object,” and then ordinary fishermen saw it and reported it.
It should be noted that in the past four years, this is the first time that North Koreans have arrived in South Korea by ship through the East Sea. A similar incident occurred in November 2019, but the defectors were later returned, considering that they were criminals and trying to escape punishment from the North Korean authorities.
Furthermore, in May last year a North Korean ship arrived in the Republic of Kazakhstan through the Yellow Sea, whose crew also wanted to remain in the South.