South Korean Coast Guard Units attempt dangerous boarding of illegal Chinese fishing vessels (Source: AFP)

South Korean Coast Guard Units attempt dangerous boarding of illegal Chinese fishing vessels (Source: AFP)

In recent weeks, the Republic of Korea’s Coast Guard has made it a major focus to stop the illegal Chinese fishermen plying the waters of South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zones. Unfortunately, this renewed focus has resulted in another death of a South Korean Coast Guard Officer:

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean Coast Guard member was stabbed to death by a Chinese fisherman on Monday during a crackdown on illegal fishing near South Korea, the Coast Guard said.

Nine Chinese crewmen violently resisted South Korean coast guardsmen trying to impound their 66-ton boat, a Coast Guard statement said.

A 41-year-old coast guardsman was stabbed in the side and died while a helicopter was taking him to a hospital in Incheon, a port city west of Seoul. The clash took place in waters 120 miles west of Incheon.

The captain of the Chinese ship was believed to have attacked the South Korean with a piece of glass from a shattered cabin window, said Chi Geun-tae, a Coast Guard spokesman. The Chinese, who suffered a minor injury during the clash, was under arrest.

A second South Korean was stabbed in the abdomen, but his condition was not critical.

The Coast Guard was taking the Chinese ship and its crew to Incheon. (Source: New York Times)

This incident is not the first time that casualties have resulted from clashes between ROK Coast Guard forces and Chinese fisherman. In 2008 a member of a South Korean unit undertaking boarding operations of Chinese vessels was found dead after clashing with Chinese fishermen, and in 2010 two Chinese fishermen died when their boat capsized and sank after ramming a South Korean Ship.

While Beijing had recently met with South Korean representatives over both legal and illegal fishing in South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone, these recent clashes and casualties point to a Beijing that has completely disregarded that agreement.

Beijing released a statement this morning that seemingly flaunted this disregard, failing to offer an apology for the murder:

The Chinese Foreign Ministry says it will closely cooperate with South Korea regarding the death of a South Korean Coast Guard commando during a raid operation on Chinese vessels that was illegally fishing in the Yellow Sea.

Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin on Monday told a regular news briefing that Beijing is monitoring related media reports and looking into the case.

The spokesman said that with a fishing agreement between China and South Korea already in place, China has been taking multiple measures to eliminate illegal fishing.

Liu also said that China hopes South Korea will guarantee Chinese fishermen with rights and treat them humanely. (Source: KBS World)

While it’s obvious that China has repeatedly ignored these “fishing agreements” with South Korea, Beijing’s “monitoring of reports” phrasing seems to potentially doubt that murder occurred at all.

This author would love to know more about the measures that China has been taking to curb the massive illegal fishing issues. In his opinion, if these “measures” continue to result in illegal fishing and the death of members on both sides, South Korea must change the way it operates in countering these issues.

While this author balked slightly at the idea of South Korea needing 1,000 kilometer-ranged (Beijing-ranged) ballistic missiles to defend itself against North Korea, perhaps it would be the perfect issue to bring to the bargaining table next time the two countries talk about fishing rights. Either that, or South Korea should take a North Korean stance on illegal fishing and just blow them out of the water.

I say both of the above somewhat jokingly, as they’re drastic measures, but it’s quite obvious that the current status quo needs a massive overhaul. China sees little point in curbing it’s fishermen, and until South Korea finds something to provoke Beijing to crack down on its own problem, this death is likely an incident that will be repeated.

(H/T to board commentator ‘Lewis’ for the heads up on this last night!)

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Craig was born & raised in the United States, having recently returned there after over five years in Asia. He is currently pursuing further education in the realms of East Asian Studies and Politics. Craig is an avid fan of the political, economic, and military machinations occurring throughout the Asian continent and how those turning gears affect the rest of the world. He's currently covering both North and South Korea for Asia Security Watch, enjoying shedding light on to this far-too-often ignored slice of Asia.
Craig Scanlan has 82 post(s) on Asia Security Watch