The publication of the Chinese Communist Party, People’s Daily reported today that the Chinese fishermen who were released after being captured by North Korea were assaulted and most of their belongings were taken from their vessels. A similar article was carried by a sister publication, Global Times.
According to, Zhu Chuang, the captain of fishing vessel Liaodanyu No. 23536, it was North Korean soldiers who captured the Chinese fishermen, and most could not speak Chinese well.
The armed soldiers approached on a speedboat and, upon boarding, took the Chinese fishermen’s cell phones away, disabled the communications equipment on the ship and took the boats to North Korea. The soldiers moored the three ships on an island and locked the Chinese fishermen in a cabin used to store waste.
On the second day, the soldiers forced the captain to sign a document stating that they had been captured while fishing illegally.
Thereafter, the soldiers ordered the captain to ask the ship’s owner via satellite phone to transfer the ransom money, warning him that if he strayed from the script he would be beaten.
The fishermen also testified that their nets, wallets, personal belongings and clothing were all taken.
Captain Zhu remembered that the satellite navigation device was pointing to N 38° 39’ by E 125° 02’. If correct, the Chinese fishermen were held in Gwail County, South Hwanghae Province.
Though understated given the gravity of the acts involved, the case has attracted considerable criticism in China. In the article carried by Global Times, “Crew Treated ‘Inhumanely'”, Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korea from the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, expressed the concern that, “Similar piracy activities have happened before, but many of them did not get so much public exposure. Both governments have handled the issue in a low-key manner. But if the incident just ends like this, similar cases will probably occur in the future.”