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S Korea urges N to release vessel

South Korea has asked the North to release one of its fishing boats seized in the Sea of Japan, amid rising tensions between the two countries over a sunken warship in April.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Monday that Pyongyang has given no comment since seizing the 41-ton squid fishing boat, AFP reported on Monday.

The Daeseung 55 has reportedly been detained in or near an exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the North proclaimed on Sunday.

The vessel, which had been traveling off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, was carrying four South Korean crewmen and three Chinese sailors.

Tensions have been high on the Korean peninsula since Seoul accused Pyongyang of sinking the South Korean warship, Cheonan earlier this year, killing 46 sailors.

A UN investigation concluded in May that the Cheonan was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine. However, the North has denied any role in the deadly sinking.

Pyongyang has promised an immediate counter-attack in case of any provocation from the South.

The South is currently staging a massive military exercise in the Yellow Sea. The maneuvers involve 4,500 troops from the country’s army, navy and air force, some 20 vessels and 50 fighter jets, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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