BEIJING – China says it is urging North Korea to release a Chinese fishing boat whose owner publicized the plight of its 16 crew in an online account saying they were seized by gun-wielding North Koreans earlier this month and held for ransom.
Yu Xuejun, who wasn’t aboard the boat, wrote on his microblog late Saturday that North Koreans seized his boat on May 5 in what he says were Chinese waters and that they demanded a $100,000 ransom. Yu, posting on a verified Tencent Weibo account, said he was asking for help from Internet users and China’s Foreign Ministry.
The official Xinhua News Agency, in its first report of the incident late Sunday, said diplomats in the North Korean capital had received a request for help from Yu as early as May 10, and that they had demanded at the time that North Korea release the boat.
Yu said the North Korean side had asked for the ransom to be paid by noon Sunday to a company in Dandong, a city in northeastern China on the North Korean border, or they would confiscate the boat and repatriate the crew.
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