Five North Korean fishermen rescued in the South earlier this week will be repatriated to their country, the unification ministry said Friday.
The fishermen were found on Monday drifting in the East Sea on a boat that experienced serious engine problems. Rescued by South Korea's maritime police, they expressed their wish to return home.
The ministry said that the North made a "verbal notification" later in the day that it will take all of them home through the truce village of Panmunjom at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
"We accepted their request and plan to repatriate them," a ministry official said.
South Korea contacted the North twice to return the fishermen but the North had not responded. Earlier, the ministry voiced regret over the North's silence on the handover.
South Korea has sent back fishermen who drifted into its waters in the past after making certain they did not wish to defect.
The two Koreas remain technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)