Why South Koreans are entitled to rage upon the coast guard incident

| December 16th, 2011

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Starting from Dec 13rd, South Koreans groups have been protesting in front of China embassy for 3 consecutive days because of the death of a coast guard resulted by Chinese fisherman. While some media manipulates the incident as “rightful defense” of the accused fisherman and depicts South Koreans as narrow-minded and over-reacting ethnicity, the majority of mainstream media in China remain cool-headed and manages to present the in-and-out of the whole incident. Here is a good example from Netease who approaches the problem in the following 3 aspects:

1. Chinese fishing boats trespass into Korean water way too often.

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Chinese trespassing illegal fishing record from 2008 – 2011:

  # of trespassing boats # of arrested people ¥ of fine
(million RMB)
2008 432 103 34.5
2009 381 130 27.66
2010 370 56 39
2011 471 58 63

The South Korea side of the Northern Limit Line(NLL) in the Yellow Sea is known for its fish abundance, especially productive of portunid, flatfish and shellfish. The area used to be the traditional fishing area for fishermen from China, South Korea and Japan. Prior to 2000, Chinese fishermen didn’t go to the area in groups, nor was there conflicts between traditional fishing Chinese fishermen and their South Korean counterparts as well as the officials.

Since the China-South Korea Fishing Agreement in 2001, fishermen of the the two countries are forbidden from trespassing into the other country’s water to fish, but Chinese fishermen kept breaking the rules. The sudden surge of heading to South Korea for fishing began around 2000, and the first intensified conflict took place on Oct 24th, 2003 when local South Korean fishermen association, threatened by Chinese excessive fishing activities in front of their water, organized over 60 fishing boats chasing after Chinese boats, which alerted the South Korean navy into dispatching 5 patrol boats. The raging chase didn’t stop until the patrol boats opened warning fire.

According to South Korea police department, there are 2196 Chinese fishing boats conducting illegal fishing within South Korea water from 2004 to 2008, during which a total number of 20896 Chinese fishermen were arrested.

2. Unstoppable trespassing fishing

According to Taiwan Central Daily, illegal fishing, once caught, would subject to a fine of up to 30 –50 million Korean dollar, which could reduce the fishermen’s family into ruin. Therefore, illegal fishermen tend to put up strong resistance against South Korean coast guards. It is said that throwing stones at approaching coast guards is the norm for resistance, sometimes even axe, iron pipe, sickle etc armed resistances were possible.

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To fight against the coastal force, Chinese fishermen learned to operate in groups varying from 4 boats to over 10 boats tied up to each other. This kind of alliance has once changed the cat and mouse game: On Sept 23rd 2008, 4 marine policemen from Mokpo marine police warship No.3003 were held custody by Chinese fishermen when examining illegal fishing boats. The 4 policemen were assaulted and released in the form of hostage exchange. Two days later, a marine police dropped to the sea and drown when another Chinese fishing boat was being forced examined by South Korean marine police. These two incidents caused huge stir in South Korea.

In the past 5 years, weapons like rubber bullet, tear gas can hardly fend off the trespassing fishing boats. South Korean press once criticized its marine force as “using weak means” for playing strictly by the marine law enforcement rules. South Korean marine police weren’t allow to use gun until 2009 when violent resistance got out of control.

3. The protest of South Korean is not unreasonable

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Judging from the cases of the past few years, South Korea is not trying to pick any fights by constantly detaining Chinese fishing boats, it is illegal fishing of the Chinese at the first place, they are just doing their job. Now that Chinese fishermen adopted violent resistance and resulted in the death of a coast guard on duty, lawful interrogation and sentence are only justice.

As for the days of protest by angry South Koreans, it doesn’t mean they are politicalizing a civil dispute. Since the coast guard was killed when exercising his rightful duty, the case can not longer be categorized as simple civil dispute.

On the other hand, in South Korea protesting is only a normal expression of citizen emotion. It is said that there are an average of 11,000 protests annually in South Korea, 85 times of which involved large scale of riot squads. They protest against Japan, against the US, against their new domestic policy, everything. Thus we shouldn’t over-decipher this one, it just happens to be China.

South Korean people do not necessarily know about the difficult living condition of Chinese fishermen, even if they do, they are not obligated to show sympathy. Suppose it is a South Korean boat trespassing into China water and stealing fish stocks from us, and by the way stab our coast guard to death, will us Chinese people feel more of the sympathy towards the difficult life of Korean fishermen than the anger towards their crime?

35 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Huzhang says:

    Perhaps it is right, but this is really more a reflection of international politics. Netease can only publish something like that because of political relations with S. Korea. If the exact same thing had happened with Japan, this article wouldn’t be here.

  2. voiceofhomer says:

    They are occupied and conquered people, and surrounded by enemies on all sides, so what do we expect them to do.

    Protest forever and all they want, they ain’t ever gonna be free.

    • nulle says:

      maybe each Southeast Asian country should have new policy:

      IF you see any foreign (ie Chinese) ships in your waters (ie Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Phillipines, etc), you have a right to sink the foreign ship and detain the crew.

      • voiceofhomer says:

        Good idea, now why didn’t anybody do that to the pirates in Somalia or Indian ocean?

        May be Chinese is a pushover and nobody will care.

        Can’t wait to see your dumb shit idea go ahead.

    • Jason says:

      “They are occupied and conquered people, and surrounded by enemies on all sides, so what do we expect them to do.

      Protest forever and all they want, they ain’t ever gonna be free.”

      in case you haven’t realised, the same reasons were brought up when ever China officials or people protested

      besides the only reason no one blew those fishing out of the waters for repeated illegal fishing is only due to the fact no one wants to offend a petty giant.

      that and leaders generally are rational enough to think before they act

  3. Jay K. says:

    If this was truly written by a Chinese “annie lee” this has got to be the most neutral and logical point of view written without nationalist agenda or bias.

    im not trying to be sarcastic, but from the news ive heard so far in ccav and daily news this is jsut being brushed aside like nothing happened. if i was korean i would be pissed also.

    • Voice of China says:

      Annie Lee has proved time and time again to be a very ‘confused’ individual.

      I think I’ll leave it at that…

      • Huzhang says:

        Dude, half of Hong Kong is like Annie Lee. Liberal and self-loathing as fuck.
        Don’t let it happen to you guys up north.

  4. Augis says:

    I’d like to see what Han Han could say about this incident.
    He is one of few rational people when it comes to nationalist sentiments in China.

  5. Mark says:

    Since China claims all bodies of water around it as its own exclusive economic zone up to the shores of other nations like the Philippines and Vietnam, it is only natural for Chinese fishermen to feel entitled to ignore S. Korea’s fisheries.

    If China had more investigative reporters they would go further than just explaining China’s treaty obligations. Chinese reporters would report on the relationship between Chinese fishing vessels and Chinese defense forces. Numerous incidents have come to light where the Chinese navy has used so called civilian vessels including fishing vessels as cover for aggressive proxy action against other nations and their vessels. The latest incidents have been with India, and Vietnam.

    Further reporting should be done to explore how much control the Chinese navy has over the movement and actions of its fishing fleets.

  6. Mark says:

    China’s despotic puppet Kim Jung il…just died.

    South Korea can expect more attacks as his son with China’s support seeks to shore up his image and secure the loyalty of the old guard.

    May Kim Jung il sicko burn in hell.

    • voiceofhomer says:

      Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s mercurial and enigmatic longtime leader, has died of heart failure. He was 69.

      China is free to take it over as another SAR.

  7. nulle says:

    why South Korea just let Kim Jong Sun attack Seoul and just respond with all-out counterattack?

    If China helps North Korea sending reinforcements or gear, it means China wants to take over the world (compared to their stated ‘defensive purposes’) since Chinese use the North Koreans as a buffer against the world.

    mainland Chinese people want the world to kow-tow to them.

  8. Unkwn says:

    First, Chinese fisherman illegally entered South Korea and killed and injured South Korean coast guard officers. The Koreans have the right to rage upon these fishermen. However, they also take it a step further and rage upon Han Chinese people. This is the reason why the Han Chinese are raging back at the Korean people. It’s not because the Koreans raged upon the fishermen, but because the Koreans are raging upon the Han Chinese.

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