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Seoul returns 3 North Koreans who crossed sea border in boat

July 29, 2019
This Sunday, July 28, 2019, photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows the North Korean boat used by three North Koreans who crossed the Koreas' sea border, at a military port in Yangyang, South Korea. Seoul's Unification Ministry said Monday in a statement it decided to let the North Koreans return home in line with their wishes. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)
This Sunday, July 28, 2019, photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, shows the North Korean boat used by three North Koreans who crossed the Koreas' sea border, at a military port in Yangyang, South Korea. Seoul's Unification Ministry said Monday in a statement it decided to let the North Koreans return home in line with their wishes. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea said Monday it’s returning three North Koreans who crossed the Koreas’ sea border aboard a wooden fishing boat over the weekend.

Seoul’s Unification Ministry said in a statement it decided to let the North Koreans return home in line with their wishes.

It said the North Koreans were to sail across the sea border back to North Korea aboard the same boat later Monday.

Fishing boats drift across the Koreas’ eastern sea border in both directions. South Korea typically returns North Korean fishermen unless they are suspected of espionage. But it also lets them resettle in the South if they want, often triggering angry response from the North.

North Korea on Saturday released two South Koreans and 15 Russians whose fishing boat drifted into North Korean waters 10 days ago. Those crew members returned to South Korea on Sunday.

Ties between the Koreas remain cool amid a lack of progress in U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear program.

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