North Korea has released a Russian fishing boat with a crew of 15 Russians and two South Koreans after it was detained for violating entry regulations, the Russian embassy in Pyongyang said Sunday.
The release comes nearly two weeks after North Korean border guards took control of the ship belonging to the Russian North-Eastern Fishing Company on July 17.
The vessel, named Xiang Hai Lin 8, left the North Korean port of Wonsan late Saturday, the embassy said in a Facebook post.
“At 19:30, the vessel left the Wonsan port’s pier and headed to Sokcho (South Korea), where two South Korean crewmembers will come ashore,” it said.
The embassy added it will continue to investigate the “circumstances” of the ship’s detention.
South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean relations, welcomed the boat’s “safe return”, calling the release “positive from a humanitarian perspective.”
The boat arrived in Sokcho on Sunday afternoon, the ministry said in a statement.
The boat was fishing for crab and travelled from South Korea to the Sea of Japan when it was detained some 100 kilometers from the North Korean border.
Russian coast guards frequently detain North Korean fishermen in the Far East, many of whom use rudimentary wooden boats. Some of them are sentenced to prison.