N. Korean navy breached tense sea border with S. Korea: official

September 3, 2009 10:12 pm 

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Sept. 4 — A North Korean patrol boat trespassed into South Korean waters earlier this week, an official in Seoul said Friday, in the latest breach of the tense Yellow Sea border between the two countries.

The boat stayed roughly six minutes before returning to the North Korean side of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) around 1:50 a.m. Thursday morning, the defense ministry official said.

North Korea does not recognize the NLL as a viable border even though the 1953-drawn demarcation has served as a de facto one for decades. Deadly clashes erupted near the NLL in 1999 and 2002.

No hostile motive was detected during the crossing, the South Korean official said, speculating the boat may have tried to account for an abnormality spotted on its radar.

"It's our conclusion that the boat mistook a wave for a foreign fishing vessel," the official said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

North Korea, which on Friday said it is expanding its nuclear arms programs despite a recent series of its conciliatory moves, has threatened the safety of South Korean and U.S. vessels near the NLL.

Sources in Seoul said earlier this year that North Korea had stepped up its naval and air force training while increasing amphibious assault exercises in the Yellow Sea.

South and North Korea remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. (PNA/Yonhap)

FFC/ebp

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