The Japanese Coast Guard has intercepted a small wooden boat that had been lost at sea since late last year with two of surviving North Korean nationals desperate to return to the one-party republic.
The boat was spotted off the coast of Fukaura in the northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori at around 7.20am by the Fukaura fisheries cooperative who immediately called the Japanese Coast Guard (JCG).
A JCG patrol vessel intercepted the wooden boat that had drifted into Japanese waters and found two people on board.
During questioning, one of the survivors told officials: “We left from North Korea and we would like to go back to North Korea.”
They explained that they had been “drifting since late December” after experiencing “engine trouble while fishing”.
According to the North Koreans, three other colleagues “fell into the sea” due to “bad weather”.
It is presumed that the three North Korean fishermen died at sea.
The survivors said that they were hungry, but were otherwise in good health, according to local media.
They were reportedly eager to get back to North Korea so as to not be considered defectors.
The JCG said that there had been 225 cases of boats drifting into Japanese waters in 2018.