Three North Korean fishermen were rescued earlier this week while drifting aboard a small boat off South Korea's east coast but they had no apparent intention to defect, a government source said Friday.
"The coast guard was called after a South Korean boat found the North Korean fishing boat near Ulleng Island yesterday," the source said, asking that he not be identified.
The source later confirmed that three North Koreans were aboard the boat when they were rescued at 1:33 a.m. Friday, adding that they all expressed a wish to go home.
"The coast guard is taking necessary steps to send them back to North Korea, which will likely take place early tomorrow," the source said.
The North Koreans were said to have drifted over 20 days after their boat's engine failed due to a malfunction. (Yonhap News)