South Korea is a sovereign state in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. With an estimated population of 50 million, it covers a total area 98,480 square kilometres which includes partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys. Its main exports are wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and computers. Korea was one nation under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule. Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 and three years later the country split in two, beginning decades of conflict between North and South. The current president of The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is Park Geun-hye. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea.
South Korea holds 23 Chinese for illegal fishing
South Korea’s coastguard said on Wednesday it was holding 23 Chinese fishermen in custody for questioning after a violent clash in the Yellow Sea that left one Chinese crew member dead.
The coastguard seized two vessels on Tuesday and towed them to the southwestern port of Mokpo after an operation against some 30 Chinese trawlers it said were fishing illegally in South Korean waters.
“A Chinese consul general interviewed the fishermen one by one after they arrived here this morning,” a coastguard spokesman said from Mokpo.
A 44-year-old fisherman was fatally wounded by a rubber bullet after coastguard commandos boarded one of the vessels and were confronted by crew members reportedly armed with knives, axes and other weapons.
He was declared dead after being rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Mokpo.
The South’s foreign ministry expressed regret over the death, while the Chinese embassy in Seoul asked South Korea to investigate it “seriously and thoroughly”.
Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, and more than 130 boats have been seized so far this year.
In December 2010 a Chinese boat overturned and sank in the Yellow Sea after ramming a South Korean coast guard vessel. Two Chinese crewmen were killed.
And last December, a coastguard officer was stabbed to death in a struggle with Chinese sailors.