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S. Korea rescues N. Korea ship with plans to send

South Korea's coast guard rescued a North Korean ship carrying eight crewmen in the southern side of the East Sea last week and plans to send them all back home, the Ministry of Unification said Monday.

The ship was drifting astray near Ulleung Island in the East Sea due to an engine breakdown when the Coast Guard salvaged it and eight North Korean crew members aboard the ship at 12:54 p.m. on June 23, the ministry said. The island lies about halfway along South Korea's east coast.

The ship is currently under repair and the ministry plans to repatriate all the crew members aboard the vessel after the repair work is complete, the ministry said, adding that the North Koreans voiced their wish to be sent back.

"As soon as the ship is fixed, the ministry will contact North Korea to inform them of the plan to repatriate them across the East Sea border," according to the ministry.

South Korea has rescued North Korean ships gone astray a total of five occasions so far this year, with 13 of all rescued North Korean crewmen sent back home while two were allowed to stay in the South, the ministry said. (Yonhap)