Disputed fishing waters between China and South Korea took a deadly turn on Monday when the captain of a Chinese boat stabbed two South Korean coast guard officers with a shard of glass, killing one, injuring the other, according to reports.
The victim was reportedly a 41-year-old man with the surname Lee. The wounded man in hospitalized.
This was the second time in less than four years that a South Korean coast guard official has been killed in such a clash over disputed fishing waters, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
South Korean officials seized the Chinese vessel for illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea near the port city of Incheon and have detained nine other crewmen. The captain has been charged with murder.
“All crew will be detained for investigation and another boat that was at the scene has been seized so that its crew will be questioned about whether they were involved in the crime,” said Ahn Sung-Shik, an investigator with the Incheon coast guard, in a statement.
BBC reported that a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Beijing is cooperating with South Korean officials, but is seeking more clarification on the clash and subsequent detentions.
The foreign ministry in Seoul summoned the Chinese ambassador Zhang Xinsen to formally lodge a protest over the murder of the coast guard officer.
South Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-Hwan “strongly demanded that the Chinese government strictly clamp down on illegal fishing and the illegal acts of Chinese fishermen,” said a ministry spokesman.
“This should have not happened. This is extremely tragic,” a spokesman for South Korea’s president Lee Myung-bak told reporters.
According to the South Korean coast guard, 430 Chinese ships have been similarly seized for illegally fishing in these waters (up from 370 last year). Typically, Chinese fisherman are made to pay a fine and released, BBC said.
The South Korean-controlled waters of the Yellow Sea are plentiful in crabs and anchovies.
Chinese fishing boats have also clashed with the Japanese over alleged illegal fishing.