Russia Captures 80 North Korean Sailors After Clash in Sea of Japan

Three Russian border patrol guards wounded in clash over fishing

Russia has summoned the North Korean Charge d’Affaires to the Foreign Ministry for an explanation on Tuesday after a clash in the Sea of Japan between Russian border patrol ships and a group of North Korean poachers fishing in Russian economic territory.

Russia reported two schooners and 11 motorboats from North Korea were spotted in Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zon. Border patrol went to detain the vessels, but after taking the first one, the second schooner opened fire on the Russians, wounding at least three border patrol guards.

The Russians ultimately captured every single one of them, some 80 North Korean sailors in all, and since the charges went from illegal fishing to attacking and wounding three Russian border agents, it’s a more serious incident now.

It’s not clear what is going to happen from here. North Korea had briefly captured but released a Russian fishing boat a few months ago. Now with an actual clash, maritime security is likely to be a higher priority in the area.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.