Chinese Fisherman Attack S. Korean Inspectors

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Four South Korean fishing inspectors were wounded in a scuffle with ax-wielding Chinese fishermen, Monday, while trying to board a boat suspected of fishing illegally in the West Sea off the coast of South Korea.

Nine Chinese fishermen armed with knives, axes, hooks and sickles attempted to prevent the officials from boarding the 227-ton Chinese vessel to conduct an inspection.

In a similar incident Dec. 12 a South Korean coastguard officer was stabbed to death by a Chinese captain.

The fishing inspectors spotted the boat at around 2:15 a.m. in waters 50 kilometers northwest of Hongdo Island off Shinan County, South Jeolla Province. The area is part of Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The boat disobeyed an order to stop and began to flee until the officials caught up with them.

The Chinese then used violence to hold the inspectors at bay. One of the latter, surnamed Ha, was struck by a fisherman and fell into the sea while three others also sustained injuries to their heads, arms and legs.

The officials called for help from the Korea Coast Guard which apprehended the fishermen around 4:45 a.m. 26 kilometers northwest from the scene where the violence occurred.

The injured officials were taken to hospital in Mokpo after undergoing emergency treatment on the coastguard vessel.

The ministry’s officials have inspected 110 Chinese boats this year alone.

Rampant illegal fishing in Korean waters has remained unabated since the death of the coastguard officer off Incheon. Lee Cheong-ho was stabbed to death by a Chinese boat captain during a raid for suspected illegal fishing.

The 43-year-old captain, Cheng Dawei, admitted to his murder after his arrest.

While prosecutors sought capital punishment for Dawei, the Incheon District Court sentenced him to a 30-year prison term and a 20-million-won fine. The court also gave jail terms to eight other Chinese fishermen apprehended with him for obstructing law enforcement.

Fights between coastguards and Chinese fishermen over illegal fishing occur regularly, and resulted in the death of another officer in September 2008.