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Illegal Chinese fisher killed in attack on Coast Guard

The captain of a Chinese fishing boat engaged in illegal fishing in Korean waters was killed during a raid by the Coast Guard on Friday.

The fisherman, a 45-year-old identified by the surname Song, is thought to have been killed as a result of being hit by a warning shot fired by a Coast Guard officer.

According to the Coast Guard, officers boarded Song’s vessel after confirming that it had illegally fished in Korean waters. While the officers were on board, two Chinese fishing vessels came either side of Song’s boat, and a struggle between Coast Guard officers and Chinese fishermen broke out. 
The Coast Guard officers head to the local police station for investigation on Friday, following the death of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat. (Yonhap)
The Coast Guard officers head to the local police station for investigation on Friday, following the death of the captain of a Chinese fishing boat. (Yonhap)

As the officers tried to bring the situation under control, a member of the Coast Guard discharged his K5 pistol. Song then complained of stomach pain and was airlifted to Mokpo Hankook Hospital in Mokpo, South Jeolla Province, but died in transit.

“The cause of Song’s death is suspected to be the penetrating wound left by the bullet,” Jung Jong-hyun, chief of Mokpo Hankook Hospital’s emergency medicine.

A CT scan showed a 1.6-centimeter bullet inside his body, and kidney, liver and lung damage.

The Chinese Embassy in Seoul expressed strong discontent at Song’s death.

“(The embassy) is extremely shocked, and protests strongly,” embassy officials said.

The deputy chief of the Chinese Consulate General in Gwangju met with Coast Guard officials of the Mokpo branch immediately after the incident, saying that more details about the situation were needed.

The Chinese official declined to comment on the possibility of his government taking diplomatic action, saying that official announcements would be made if such measures are needed.

This is the first time a Chinese fisherman has been killed by live ammunition fired by the Korean Coast Guard. In October 2012, however, a Chinese fisherman died after being hit with a rubber bullet fired while the Coast Guard was fighting off an attack from the crews of about 30 Chinese fishing vessels.

Chinese vessels engaging in illegal fishing in Korean waters have been a growing problem for a number of years. Increasing numbers of Chinese vessels have engaged in such activities, while their crews have taken to systematic and sometimes violent measures to resist arrest.

Large numbers of fishing vessels have taken to banding together to hamper Coast Guard operations, and to attack officers with improvised weapons.

Since 2008, two Korean Coast Guard officers have died as a result of assault by Chinese fishermen. The first incident occurred in 2008 when Park Kyung-jo died when he fell into the sea after being attacked.

The most recent incident occurred in 2011 when an officer died after being stabbed by a crew member of a Chinese boat near Incheon.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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