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Fishermen arrested for dumping stowaways' bodies

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean police have arrested eight fishermen for allegedly dumping the bodies of 26 Chinese stowaways into the sea after they died of suffocation aboard their ship.

The 26 dead were among 60 Chinese who attempted to illegally enter South Korea aboard the South Korean fishing boat, police officer Yoo Jong-kap told The Associated Press.

The South Korean boat, the 73-ton Taechang-ho, took on the stowaways from an unidentified Chinese ship in the Yellow Sea Saturday and kept them in the ship's hull, Yoo said.

Twenty-six of them were later found to have suffocated, and the ship's crew conspired to dump the bodies overboard, the police officer said.

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The crime came to light when police, acting on a tip, raided a hideout in Yosu early Monday, about 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Seoul.

The police detained 34 stowaways who came ashore.

Maritime police said they were searching the sea for the discarded bodies. An investigation of the human smuggling network was also underway, they said.

The stowaways included many ethnic Koreans who lived in China but were looking for work in South Korea where wages are much higher.

South Korea's national Yonhap news agency quoted an unidentified South Korean source as saying that the stowaways left Ningbo, a port in China's Zhejiang province, on October 1.

There are about 1 million ethnic Koreans living in China.

They are mostly the offspring of Korean migrants who settled there during the Japanese colonial occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910-45.


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