The South Korean Coast Guard has rescued five North Koreans from a drifting fishing vessel 118 nautical miles east off Sokcho in Gangwon Province.

The early morning rescue was carried out by a coast guard patrol ship on Thursday and an investigation is under way.  

One source says the sailors did not appear to have intended to defect to the South, but they will be questioned by related government agencies. 

If they want to return to the North, the South will inform the North of a plan to repatriate them per usual custom and hand them over at sea as soon as their boat is fixed. 

[Photo : YONHAP News]