South Korean fishermen took matters into their own hands on Sunday after what they say was a violation of South Korean territorial waters. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo
SEOUL, June 6 (UPI) -- North Korea accused the South of crossing a disputed maritime border on the western coast, after a group of South Korean fishermen caught two Chinese fishing boats in the area.
Pyongyang's state-controlled KCNA did not mention the fishermen on Monday, but said instead "South Korea puppet military forces" have "once again infiltrated our territorial waters."
North Korea stated the violation occurred around 4:30 a.m. Sunday.
The incident took place when South Korean fishermen intercepted 11 Chinese fishermen on two boats near the maritime border between North and South, Yonhap reported.
The Chinese fishermen were reportedly sleeping when South Koreans dragged their vessels to the island of Yeonpyeong as punishment, according to press reports.
"We went out to fish in waters south of Yeonpyeong early in the morning when we saw about 100 Chinese fishing boats covering the sea north of Yeonpyeong," said a South Korean captain involved in the incident. "We suddenly became so mad that we decided to take collective action."
South Korea's coast guard is to charge the South Korean fishermen with violating a law that bans them from sailing too close to the border, and the Chinese nationals are to be charged with illegal entry and fishing.
But North Korea said Monday "puppet forces" pushed into the North side of the Northern Limit Line near Yeonpyeong Island to "disturb 19 vessels" outside South Korea territorial waters.
Pyongyang noted the two vessels that were taken away were of Chinese origin.
Seoul's defense ministry has previously stated the number of fishing boats operating illegally in the South's maritime zone has doubled. An average of 140 North Korea boats now cross the line daily, and about 240 Chinese boats are fishing in South Korean waters, the ministry has said.
On May 27, a North Korean patrol boat and fishing vessel crossed the NLL, causing the South's military to fire warning shots.