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North Korea releases detained Russian fishing boat, crew

A starboard bow view of the Russian navy Krivak I class frigate BDITELNY during exercise BALTOPS 93. Behind BDITELNY is the German frigate FGS KARLSRUHE (F-212). Also in the picture is the Swedish minelayer HMS Älvsborg (M02). (CMDR. Nathan Jones/U.S. Navy)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

North Korea has released a Russian fishing boat with a crew of 15 Russians and two South Koreans after it was detained for allegedly violating entry regulations, officials say.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said the boat arrived in the country’s eastern Sokcho port on July 28, a day after it left North Korea’s Wonsan port.

The Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said that it will continue to investigate the “circumstances” of the ship’s detention.

Russia’s TASS news agency cited an unidentified crew member as saying the ship was released without being fined.

“The full crew is aboard the ship. Everyone is feeling well,” the crew member said.

North Korean authorities took control of the vessel and detained its crew on July 17 as the ship was heading from South Korean territorial waters into the Sea of Japan to catch crabs.

Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency earlier quoted Russia’s federal agency for fisheries, Rosrybolovstvo, as calling North Korea’s action illegal.

Moscow would not hold any talks on fisheries cooperation with Pyongyang, which cover fishing quotas for North Korean fisherman in Russia’s Far East, until the matter was resolved, the agency said.

The Russian fishing vessel, named Xiang Hai Lin 8, belongs to the Russian North-Eastern Fishing Company.

North Korean fishermen are frequently detained by Russian coast guards in the Far East, and some of them are handed prison terms.

The two Koreas have been locked in a frozen conflict for decades.