By Sam Kim
Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) — The captain of a Chinese fishing boat died after a scuffle with a South Korean coast guard officer who fired a pistol shot.
The incident happened after the 45-year-old resisted a unit of riot officers cracking down on illegal fishing inside South Korea’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to the country’s coast guard. The incident happened 144 kilometers (89 miles) off South Korea’s western coast, it said.
China’s Foreign Ministry said it was “shocked” by the death and demanded South Korea investigate and punish those responsible.
The death marks the first time a Chinese fisherman has lost his life in South Korea’s crackdown on fishing boats operating in the country’s waters since October 2012. Two South Korean coast guard officers died in separate incidents in 2008 and 2011, while trying to arrest Chinese fishermen.
The 45-year-old Chinese captain, identified only by his last name Song, complained of breathing difficulties and stomach pain before being transported to a hospital in the southwestern city of Mokpo, the West Regional Headquarters Korea Coast Guard said in an e-mailed statement. He is believed to have died from “an external shock,” it said.
“A member of a special riot unit fired a K-5 pistol due to extreme resistance,” the coast guard said. Yonhap News said Song charged toward officers with a weapon before being shot at.
South Korea’s foreign ministry expressed regret to the Chinese embassy over the fisherman’s death and sent condolences to his family, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
“We are shocked that the South Korea side has taken violent action and caused the death of the Chinese captain,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing in Beijing today. “We require that South Korea immediately and thoroughly investigate the case and severely punish those responsible,” Hong said.
With growing demand for fish at home, Chinese fishing boats have been sailing farther afield as the country’s coastal waters dry up in resources. South Korea last year seized about 480 Chinese boats that operated in its waters, according to an e- mailed statement from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
Copyright 2014 Bloomberg.