At approximately 7am this morning, a group of Chinese fishermen suspected of fishing illegally in the Yellow Sea stabbed two South Korean coast guards, killing one and wounding the other. The group was confronted by the Republic of Korea Coast Guard in waters west of the city of Incheon, near South Korea’s border with North Korea.
The 41-year-old officer, surnamed Lee, was stabbed by glass fragments after the coastguard detained the Chinese fishing boat 85 km southwest of Socheong island, and died while being rushed to an Incheon hospital. The other injured officer, a 33-year-old also surnamed Lee, is recovering from stomach injuries in the same Incheon hospital.
“One officer is dead. There is another one injured. There are no other injuries,” a coastguard officer said. “It happened in the EEZ (exclusive economic zone), outside the territorial waters, but it’s still illegal fishing.”
Some 2,600 Chinese fishing boats have been caught illegally fishing in the South Korean EEZ since 2006 and nearly 800 Chinese fishermen have been arrested, Yonhap reported.
In the first 11 months of this year, some 440 Chinese fishing boats were caught illegally fishing in South Korean waters, up 46 percent from a year earlier, it said.
The vessel and its nine crew members are currently in the custody of the Republic of Korea Coast Guard.
As recently as November, the Republic of Korea Coast Guard engaged in a three-day crackdown on illegal fishing by Chinese fishermen, with one incident involving ten Chinese boats being tied together to resist arrest.
This latest international incident will likely overshadow past cases involving China’s fishermen and its neighbors, who are collectively wary of the the mainland’s willingness to assert its interests in the East and Southeast Asian regions.
We can expect to see some major demonstrations soon, given the way South Koreans pull out all the stops when it comes to public protests, which have included women shaving their hair, feces being flung, stomachs getting sliced, and pants getting dropped in the past.
UPDATE: The 42-year-old captain of the Chinese fishing vessel is reportedly responsible for both attacks against the Republic of Korea Coast Guard officers.