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May 30, 2017

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South Korea 'regrets' death of Chinese fisherman

SEOUL -- South Korea's foreign minister voiced regret Friday over the death of a Chinese fisherman in a coast guard operation, as China's ambassador met with top officials in Seoul to discuss the incident.

The 44-year-old fisherman was fatally wounded Tuesday by a rubber bullet after coast guard commandos boarded two Chinese ships deemed to be fishing illegally in South Korean waters.

The coast guard said the Chinese crew members had threatened the commandos with knives, axes, saws and other weapons.

"It was regrettable that the incident happened during a crackdown against illegal fishing by Chinese vessels, but it should be understood that there was a violent resistance," Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan told reporters.

His comments came as Chinese Ambassador Zhang Xinsen met with South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young to voice Beijing's concern over the incident.

China has already demanded a full investigation into what it described as an example of "violent law enforcement" and urged Seoul to "bring the perpetrator to justice.

Illegal fishing by Chinese boats is common in South Korean waters, and more than 130 boats have been seized so far this year.

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