Twenty-eight abducted Chinese fishermen safely reached a port in Dalian, Liaoning Province Monday, bringing gruesome accounts of their 13 days of captivity at the hands of unidentified North Korean captors, as analysts warned that similar cases may happen again in the future.
"Before they released us, they brought us ashore and gave each of us a pack of cigarettes. Then they pointed their guns at our heads, forcing us to write a confession saying that we entered North Korean waters illegally and they had treated us very well," Yuan Xiwen, one of the fishermen, told the Global Times.
Zhu Chuang, one of the captains of the three boats, said the abductors only gave each boat half a bag of rice before ordering them to leave.
"They took everything onboard, including communication devices and our clothes, leaving some of us only with underwear. Fortunately, we could still use the Beidou for guidance," Zhu told the Global Times, referring to China's indigenous satellite navigation system, a rival to the GPS.
The three boats arrived in Dalian at around 6:35 am Monday after being released Sunday night. The fishermen were then sent to a local hospital for medical checks.
The fishermen told the Global Times that the three boats were seized one after another by a North Korean gunboat on May 8 while working in the Yellow Sea.
"The gunboat approached us, and six or seven armed North Koreans boarded our ship. They locked us up in a small cabinet we use for storing waste. One of the captors served as a translator, but I do not think he was of Chinese origin," Zhu recalled.
The fishermen told Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV that the abductors had treated them "inhumanely," and had beaten them with wooden sticks. One of the boat owners said no ransom had been paid.
"They did not allow us to talk, and would beat our spine and head if we made any sound. We had one, sometimes two meals a day, of only rice and porridge," said Wang Zhiguo, one of the crew members.
"We could not properly sit down or stand in the tiny cabin," Wang told the Global Times.
According to People's Daily, three of the fishermen felt dizzy after their return, and another three had obvious bruises on their bodies.
Some of the fishermen told Phoenix TV that they would quit their jobs and not return to those waters.
When contacted by the Global Times, an official with North Korea's foreign ministry said that Pyongyang will handle the aftermath of the abduction on the basis of Sino-North Korean friendly ties.
"Relevant departments are working with the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang on the matter, which shouldn't have happened between the two sides," the official said, without offering more details.
"Similar piracy activities have happened before, but many of them did not get so much public exposure. Both governments have handled the issue in a low-key manner. But if the incident just ends like this, similar cases will probably occur in the future," said Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korea at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
China's foreign ministry said on Thursday that they had demanded the North Korean side ensure the safety and legitimate rights of the fishermen, nine days after the abduction occurred.
Many Web users expressed their anger over the abduction Monday, demanding a satisfactory explanation for the incident and calling for immediate measures to prevent reoccurrence of such abduction.