One eye on the fish, the other on North Korea

island.JPGThe New York Times (free registration required) ran an article today on Baengnyeong Island, South Korea’s northern most island which is below the NLL (the de jure, though disputed, sea border between the DPRK and the ROK), but only 10 miles from the coast of North Korea.

Fishermen have gone missing from this island for years, and occasionally, naval clashes erupt between the DPRK and ROK.  The latter problem, though not the former, was an agenda item on the most recent Inter-Korea talks between Kim Jong Il and the former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

The island is now a sad reminder of the costs of division and isolation:

[F]or Chang Hyung-soo, a 64-year-old retired diver here, this narrow strip of water is what separates him from his hometown [in the PDRK]. It also separates him from three of his friends who were lost in fog while fishing and taken to North Korea three decades ago.


“A few weeks ago, a 93-year-old man came here to take a last look at his hometown across the channel before he died,” Mr. Chang, the retired diver, said from the hilltop. “But he could see nothing because of the fog. I still remember the old man’s tears of disappointment.”

Complicating the matter, however, is the competition from Chinese fishersmen granted territorial access by the DPRK:

To make matters worse, hundreds of Chinese fishing boats, after paying fees to the North Korean Navy, have sailed into waters between their islands and North Korea in recent years while the South Korean fishermen have been restricted to waters close to their own shores.

“The Chinese trawlers catch anything, everything, and deplete our seas,” said Kim Myong-san, 78, who first came to the island as a marine and settled here with his wife.

One Eye on the Fish, the Other on North Korea
New York Times

Choe Sang-Hun

Top image from Google Earth. Download “North Korea Uncovered” to see this location on your own Google Earth.


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