I have posted before about Chinese fishermen intruding into Korean waters and the impotence of the Korean Coast Guard to do anything about it. Well now the Chinese fishermen may have finally crossed a line where the South Korean government may actually have to do something about it:
A coastguard official was found dead Friday afternoon after a crash occurred while he was inspecting a Chinese boat for illegal fishing in the Korean western sea, the national maritime police agency said.
The body of the 48-year-old coastguard service member, identified only as Park, was found Friday afternoon floating in waters near Gageo Island, two and half-hours away from Mokpo City, the southwestern port city.
Park had been missing since around 7:40 p.m. Thursday, after he stopped two Chinese fishing boats 73 kilometers off the island for fishing in Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the police agency official said.
The Chinese fishermen were reported to have strongly resisted when Park and his two other colleagues stopped them, wielding metal pipes, shovels and clubs. The 50-ton Chinese fishing boats were caught at around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Eleven Chinese fishermen on board are now under investigation, the officials said. [Korea Times]
Robert Koehler has a good run down on his site on how the violence perpetuated by the Chinese fishermen towards the Korean Coast Guard has only escalated over recent years because of the Coast Guard’s inability to use real force to arrest the illegal Chinese fishermen. The Chinese fishermen know that the Coast Guard personnel are not armed and thus attack them to the point now where one of the Coast Guard’s servicemembers are dead. To put this in context the Korean Coast Guard has had more personnel killed by hostile violence then Korea had killed in four years rotating thousands of ROK Army soldiers to Iraq.
Daum has a report up on the incident as well that says in 2006 522 Chinese fishing boats violated Korean waters, while in 2007 494 Chinese boats violated Korean waters, and 159 Chinese boats have violated Korean waters this year. It will be interesting to compare the Korean public’s reaction to this murder to the reaction they had when Japan that was thinking of sending a research vessel to survey waters around Dokdo. The incident let to mass nation wide protests and even to then President Roh Moo-hyun declaring “diplomatic war” against Japan. This incident of course isn’t going to lead to any “diplomatic war” with China, but I would hope at least South Korean policemen could at least carry weapons to defend themselves and even better yet sink hostile Chinese ships that don’t comply with the Coast Guard after this incident.
This murder of the Korean Coast Guard official is outrageous, but considering how Chinese protesters were able to run amok in the streets of Seoul and attack people with few people complaining afterward, I doubt this will turn into a major issue with the Korean public. It seems appeasing China in regards to the economy, human rights, and even law and order in Seoul has been a South Korean governmental policy for many years and the murder of one Korean Coast Guard official probably won’t change it; just ask this Korean resident of Yeonpyeong Island:
A resident on the island said Chinese boats come close enough so fishermen onboard urinating. “It’s happening because our country is weak. If it had happened in Japanese waters, Japan would have already arrested them all,” he added.
So does anyone think this incident would change these poll results in any way?