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South Korea Returns 27 Sailors To North

South Korea has repatriated 27 North Koreans whose fishing boat drifted into Southern waters last month.

The North had demanded the repatriation of all 31 of its citizens on the boat, but Seoul said four wanted to stay in the South and were taking steps to officially defect.

Bad weather and a crippled vessel had delayed the return of the sailors, whose boat drifted across the disputed Yellow Sea border in thick fog on February 5.

More than 20,000 North Koreans have defected to the South since the Korean War ended in 1953.

compiled from agency reports