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3 Chinese Fishermen Killed by South Korean Coastguard

Opposition to US Missile Shield Forces South Korean Government to Change Site

September 30, 2016 


A Chinese fishing boat catches fires during an inspection by the South Korean coast guard in the water off Hong Island, South Korea, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 South Koreans protesting a site of US missile shield in their area, July 8, 2016


Clash with South Korean coast guard leaves three Chinese fishermen dead

Sep 30, 2016 Article history

Japan Times Online, Sep 30, 2016

Printed on October 01, 2016

SEOUL, Associated Press –

South Korea’s coast guard says three Chinese fishermen have been found dead when a fire broke out on their boat after the coast guard fired a flash-bang grenade at the vessel to stop it.

The coast guard said in a statement that the officers boarded the vessel off South Korea’s southwestern coast on Thursday and put out the fire. They took 14 other fishermen to a South Korean port.

The statement did not say if the flash-bang grenade caused the fire or what killed the fishermen.

The coast guard often stops Chinese ships for suspected illegal fishing, and violent clashes sometimes happen.

In 2014, a South Korea coast guardsman fatally shot the captain of a Chinese fishing vessel who was trying to prevent his ship from being inspected.


Three Chinese fishermen killed in confrontation with South Korea coastguard

Friday, September 30, 2016 | 4:39am EDT

SEOUL, Reuters --

Three Chinese fishermen were killed on Thursday in a fire that broke out on their boat when South Korean coastguard men trying to apprehend them for illegal fishing threw flash grenades into a room they were hiding in, a South Korean official said.

Disputes over illegal fishing are an irritant in relations between China and U.S. ally South Korea, even as their economic relations grow close. They also share concern about North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile programs.

The three men were believed to have suffocated, a coastguard official in the South Korean port city of Mokpo said, adding that the incident was being investigated.

The fire broke out in the boat's steering room, the official, who is not authorized to speak with media and declined to be identified, told Reuters by telephone.

South Korean authorities were questioning the 14 surviving crew and coastguard members involved in the operation, the official added.

China's Foreign Ministry said it had lodged a protest with Seoul about the incident.

Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing Beijing was also urging South Korea to hold a "comprehensive and objective" investigation into the incident, along with China.

South Korean coastguard vessels regularly chase Chinese boats for fishing illegally and violent confrontations have occurred in the past.

The Chinese boat, caught fishing off the southwest of the peninsula, about 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Hongdo Island, would be brought in to a South Korean port later on Friday, the coastguard official said.

In June, South Korea and the United Nations Command, which oversees the Korean War armistice, launched a joint operation to keep Chinese fishing vessels from operating illegally off South Korea's west coast.

That came after South Korean fishermen, frustrated with incursions by Chinese boats in defiance of coastguard warnings, impounded two Chinese trawlers and handed them over to authorities.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Tony Munroe and Robert Birsel)


South Korea alters site for U.S. missile shield on rising oppositions

SEOUL, Sept. 30, 2016 (Xinhua) --

South Korea on Friday announced a plan to alter a site for the U.S. missile shield, which Seoul and Washington had agreed to deploy in southeastern South Korea by the end of next year, amid strong oppositions from people living in the originally designated site.

Seoul's defense ministry originally planned to announce the changed site in the afternoon after explaining it to residents concerned and lawmakers at about 2:00 p.m. local time (0500 GMT), but the explanations were brought forward as ministry officials unilaterally visited residents in the morning, according to local media reports.

Military authorities of South Korea and the United States jointly announced their agreement in July to deploy one Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery at a missile emplacement in Seongju county in North Gyeongsang province.

Seongju residents aroused the bitterest opposition to the closed-door decision without any prior notice and explanation, demanding a re-examination of where the super microwave-emitting radar is sited.

One THAAD battery is composed of six mobile launchers, 48 interceptors, a fire control unit and an X-band radar, which is known to emit microwaves detrimental to human bodies and environment.

On Aug. 4, President Park Geun-hye said she will reconsider the THAAD site, and Defense Minister Han Min-koo visited the Seongju county on Aug. 17, saying that if residents formally ask for a re-designation within the county, the defense ministry will re-consider where the U.S. missile defense system is sited.

Three candidate sites were allegedly under deliberation, but a golf course within the Seongju county was finally designated because two other sites require new infrastructure such as road, electricity and water.

The infrastructure development will require approval for budget from opposition lawmakers, which had expressed objections to the THAAD deployment in South Korean soil as the installation is not in any national interests militarily and diplomatically.

The THAAD battery is believed to be incapable of intercepting hundreds of missiles from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) that fly at an altitude of less than 40 km. The THAAD is aimed at shooting down missiles at an altitude of 40-150 km.

The U.S. missile defense system is to be deployed in southeastern South Korea, making it impossible for the THAAD interceptors to defend the capital Seoul and its adjacent metropolitan areas.

China and Russia have strongly opposed the THAAD deployment decision as it breaks strategic balance and boosts arms race in the region. The THAAD's X-band radar can peer deep into Chinese and Russian territories.

The Seongju golf course is reportedly owned by Lotte Group, the country's fifth-biggest conglomerate. Lotte's founding family, including group chairman Shin Dong-bin, has been under prosecutors' investigation for embezzlement, tax evasion and slush funds.

The South Korean military is required to purchase the golf course, allegedly priced at more than 100 billion won (90.5 million U.S. dollars). The direct purchase will also require a parliamentary approval, so local media estimated that the military may seek to exchange other military-owned land for the golf course.

Despite the altered site, residents are expected to continue their opposition to the THAAD deployment as the golf course is away from the originally designated site but is closer to the southeastern city of Gimcheon with a population of about 140,000.

Gimcheon residents, enraged at earlier media reports estimating that the golf course would be designated as a new site, had rallied against the deployment.

They formed a Gimcheon committee for THAAD opposition, having claimed that the site change would represent the negligence of Gimcheon citizens as the alteration came from strong oppositions by Seongju residents.

The committee has said that unless the THAAD battery causes any damage to people and environment as the defense ministry insists, there would be no reason for change in the deployment site.

Gimcheon mayor has reportedly refused to meet military officials visiting the city for explanations about the site change.


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