Oct. 27 (UPI) -- South Korean fishermen are reportedly safe and in good health after being repatriated by North Korean authorities.
South Korean fishermen aboard the 391Heungjin had crossed a maritime border in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, when they were apprehended on Saturday, South Korean television network KBS reported.
North Korea repatriated the crew Friday evening, after Pyongyang issued an announcement of its intentions to return the crew to the South.
In its statement published by news agency KCNA, North Korea said the South Korean fishing vessels "illegally infiltrated our waters of the East Sea."
"After inspections we found the fishing vessel and its crew had trespassed into our waters in order to catch fish," KCNA said in its statement.
North Korea said it opted for leniency after the "South Korean crew frankly acknowledged the illegal infiltration and apologized."
"We decided to return them on humanitarian grounds," North Korea said in its statement.
A South Korean unification ministry official said of the crewmembers, seven were South Korean nationals and three were Vietnamese.
The boat had set out to sea to catch blowfish, or pufferfish, some of the most poisonous vertebrates in the world, Yonhap reported Friday.
The boat lost communication on Oct. 21, five days after setting out to sea, according to the report.