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Government Apologizes for Failing to Detect N. Korean Boat

Hot Issues of the Week2019-06-22


Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo bowed his head in apology Thursday after the military failed to detect a North Korean boat that had entered South Korean waters.

“The military has taken the situation regarding the North Korean small wooden boat seriously and deeply apologizes to the people."

"The military will thoroughly review the vigilance of its guard operations and those responsible will be sternly reprimanded"

Criticism has mounted against the South Korean military after it was revealed that a small fishing boat from the North was able to cross the inter-Korean maritime border and travel undetected some 130 kilometers south to the eastern coastal port of Samcheok late last week.

The one-point-eight ton wooden boat with a 28-horsepower engine remained undetected in South Korean waters for two and a half days.

Apparently, two of the four North Korean passengers exited the boat and walked around the port, with at least one even asking locals if he could borrow a mobile phone to speak with a relative in the South.

The military was unaware of their presence until a civilian spotted the North Korean boat and reported the case to authorities.

In an apology issued Thursday, Jeong also addressed the military's less-than-accurate initial reporting of the case. Military authorities had previously claimed that the boat was stranded in the East Sea due to engine failure and that it was found not "at" but "near" the port.

"As for the various suspicions raised after the incident, we will fully explain them to the people to erase even a speck of doubt. If there were any false reports or attempts to cover-up the incident, those involved will be sternly dealt with in accordance with laws and regulations."

Of the four North Koreans aboard the ship, two were returned to the North on Tuesday as they expressed a desire to return home. The remaining two wanted to defect and remain in South Korea.

The defense chief vowed to enhance military readiness and make sure similar incidents do not happen again.

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