A group of fishermen who had been held by the Communists for 48 days in north Korea returned here wednesday evening.
A group of fishermen who had been held by the Communists for 48 days in north Korea returned here wednesday evening. They were escorted and towed to this port a little after 7.p.m. They arrived here aboard 33 fishing boats of their cap. Most of them appeared tired but otherwise in good conditions. But the fate of 56 other fishermen and their 23 boats was not known immediately.
Fisherman Mr. Bon-son Ku, one of the returning fishermen said he believed that some of the missing boats must remain held in the north by the Communists. He would not say whether he saw any of the other missing fisherman however. Ku spoke while meeting newsmen at the Kyonggi-do Police headquarters here where he and other returnees were taken for medical checkup and other processes. Officials here said the missing fisherman must have perished when the fishermen's boats were swept north by Typhoon Flossie in July while fishing near the western extension of the Military Demarcation Line near Yonpuong Island about 100km north west of Seoul. The returnees were led on a guided tour of Pyongyang, capital of north Korea, and other major cities Ku said they were shown factories and medical facilities, made as showcases for Communist propaganda. Ku described north Korea as suffering food shortage.
The repatriation of the fishermen came abruptly Tuesday following a Monday meeting of the Military Armistice Commission at Panmunjom, in which the Communists turned down the United Nations Command proposal that the fishermen be returned through the Neutral Nations Armistice Commission. The UNC had made the counter proposal in answer to a Communist proposal last week that a group of officials represent the Republic of Korea be sent to Haeju to take over the fishermen.
The south Korean government rejected the Communist offer on grounds that the Communist bid constituted a scheme aimed at promoting Communist propaganda.