GPS & Fisherman

For those of you who haven’t heard, South Korea’s been having some minor troubles dealing with GPS interference from an “unknown source”. OK, so they blame North Korea for all of this. Regardless of who the blame goes to, it’s causing some troubles for flights in and out of Seoul, fishermen out at sea, and every Seoulite who like to use their GPS even for places they know how to get to. What’s North Korea’s response to the criticisms?

I love North Korean media:

The sky, land and seas of south Korea are in utter confusion due to this jamming plus mad-cow disease.

Sure, the GPS jamming has a minor role in this whole fiasco, but really, it’s the mad-cow disease-ridden American beef you’re all eating! It’ll make you do crazy things like claim other countries have WMDs, and then invade them! Wait… [ponder]

In either case, back to the fisherman issue, for those who haven’t heard…
4 Chinese fishing ships captured by DPRK authorities.
I would think the case where the Chinese fisherman crossed into South Korean waters, as evidence that crossing into other peoples’ waters is something all fishermen did, no matter what country. This sort of thing happens all the time, and every year in the summer, Korea’s West Coast suffers from “The Crab Wars”, where both North AND South Korean fishing boats are constantly crossing the Northern Limit Line (NLL), in pursuit of blue crabs. According to DailyNK however, that’s not the case: These guys were “kidnapped”. There have also been demands for a ransom on these 29 fisherman, and that if they don’t receive it by a week ago, these guys were going to be removed. I wonder if this is why “Big Daddy” is going to China –I doubt it.

The Global Times published its report on the front page with a photo of one of the captured Chinese fisherman holding a club in what the paper said was a demonstration of how North Koreans beat him and his fellow crew members.

The full page story referred to the incident as both a “detention” and a “kidnapping.” It went on to say that a gunboat approached the fishing vessels and that uniformed men with automatic weapons boarded them while they were in Chinese waters on May 8. The boarding party smashed their communications equipment, ordered the lowering of the Chinese flag and forced some of the fishermen into the cabin of one of the boats.

“They wouldn’t let us talk and if we moved they would hit us,” the report quoted one fisherman as saying. The captives said they were given rice or gruel to eat, usually once a day.

The report said the Koreans took whatever they could, and that one boat wasn’t enough to hold all of the booty and that a second boat was called in.

The fishermen were later taken ashore and given cigarettes before being forced at gunpoint to sign a document while they were filmed. According to the report, the contents of the document read : ”We entered DPRK waters and were working there illegally. The DPRK treated us in a friendly manner and all was normal during our stay there.”

So now that the fisherman have returned to China, was the 1.2-million RMB ransom (400,000/ship) actually paid, or did they go through another track to get them back?UPDATE 16:58pm, The ransom wasn’t paid, and there’s a flurry of angry Chinese

If they were really kidnapped within Chinese territorial waters, or out in international waters, China would be giving more of a stink to North Korea, than they are to the Phillipines right now. For all the hooplar going on in the South China seas, and off to the east, you’d think there would have been something done in the Northern areas. I supposed, intensification of declared water boundaries are a response to China sternly telling North Korea against firing nuclear weapons

*As of May 16th, 28 of the 29 have returned thus far. According to this website:
There’s a blog post on a Chinese forum, about a local’s understanding of how the fishing industry works in the DanDong area.
The fisherman are from Dalian, but were fishing in the DanDong area (closest to the North Korean border):

View Larger Map
First of all, these guys must have received permission from the PLA-N, to even fish in the DanDong region. Unbeknownst to these fisherman, there has been a longstanding deal between the local fisherman giving “fees” to North Koreans (be they authorities or otherwise), to cross into North Korean waters to catch fish. This is because, the fish are more abundant in North Korean waters than they are in Chinese waters. So, these unfamiliar-looking ships come around, and not having paid their “assistance fees”, and start fishing in Korean waters? North Korea don’t play ‘dat!

But then of course, regardless of GPS readings on their ship, if these guys saw other Chinese ships in the same waters, they probably thought everything was ok, and didn’t know anything about these “assistance fees”. Then of course, what of the motivations behind the capture?

Capturing foreign nationals and their property would inevitably create a diplomatic problem and could not be done without the approval of the authorities. Discipline in the North Korean military is stern and hierarchy is thoroughly observed. While scheming with the authorities to demand money from the captured Chinese sailors, they must have intended to express discontent at something else. What message did the North Korean authorities want to convey to Beijing?

The most likely scenario was that the abduction of Chinese fishermen was carefully planned by the new leadership in Pyongyang in retaliation for China’s continuing criticism of the North Korea’s April rocket launch and ongoing preparations for another nuclear test.

In addition, Beijing recently permitted a number of North Korean defectors to leave China to seek asylum in South Korea that could not but anger the North Korean leaders who wanted to teach China a lesson.

The timing of the incident (May 8-21) also supports this hypothesis. It coincided with the joint US-South Korea aerial exercises Thunder Max, which were held between May 7-18. While these exercises take place on an annual basis, this year’s activities were of a particularly massive scale.


13=阝12=口 J=丁 (阿)
L=氵 Z=工 (江)
–1312JLZ (阿江)
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