South Korea handed seven North Koreans found in southern waters on a fishing boat back to the North on Wednesday after they said they wanted to go back to their communist homeland, an official said.
The North Korean fishermen accidentally crossed into South Korean waters Monday without any intentions to defect and all seven expressed their desire to return to the North, the Unification Ministry said.
The North Koreans were repatriated the North at the border village of Panmunjom, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said.
The village is jointly overseen by the U.N. Command and North Korea -- an arrangement established in 1953 to supervise the cease-fire that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. The cease-fire has never been replaced with a peace treaty.
Earlier this month, the U.S.-led United Nations Command repatriated a North Korean soldier rescued at sea by South Korea’s navy.
Some North Koreans have defected to the South by boat, though the vast majority who flee the hunger and harsh political oppression in North Korea travel overland through China and Southeast Asia to South Korea.
More than 16,000 North Koreans have arrived in the South since the Korean War.