18:18 GMT30 July 2021
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    A small boat carrying five North Korean citizens crossed the maritime border into South Korean waters on July 1 in what appeared to be an attempt to flee the regime of Kim Jong-un.

    A South Korean Coast Guard patrol ship stopped the boat shortly after 7:00 p.m. local time near the Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the East Sea, the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas, and guided it to safety at the nearby port of Mukho, a coast guard official told AFP.

    Having interviewed the sailors, including four men and one woman, the maritime police said the North Koreans expressed their wish to defect to the South, the Yonhap news agency reported.

    They are currently being questioned by investigators.

    On June 23, South Korea rescued a North Korean fishing boat drifting in waters off its east coast after it developed engine trouble. Days later, the eight sailors on board were repatriated, as they requested.

    In another incident in early June, two people out of four crew members on another North Korean fishing boat which drifted to the South refused to return home. They were allowed to stay in South Korea.

    More than 30,000 North Korean civilians have fled the secluded state, most of them traveling through the neighboring China, as the actual border between the two Koreas is heavily guarded.


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