A SOUTH Korean ship's officer who fell into the South China Sea during a voyage to Taiwan was rescued yesterday after being in the water for 18 hours. A Government Flying Service aircraft spotted Cho Hyun-je, 35, about 270 nautical miles southeast of Hong Kong at 4.40 pm. A distress call had been received from the Panamanian tanker Wee Lek No 1 at 7.30 am. Mr Cho was last seen on board at 11 pm on Thursday. The tanker was directed to the scene after the aircraft dropped a yellow smoke signal to mark the location. Mr Cho, a father of two sons, was picked up by the vessel - which had been circling the area - at 4.50 pm and the ship continued its voyage to Kaohsiung.