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A spike in 'ghost boats' points to North Korea's growing desperation

Pyongyang's quest for fish and funds takes a toll on the country's fishermen

This North Korean boat washed ashore in Yurihonjo, in Japan's Akita Prefecture, on Nov. 23. Such vessels are clearly not designed for long voyages.   © Kyodo

TOKYO On a chilly November night, half an hour before midnight, the local police in the northern Japanese prefecture of Akita received an emergency call. The caller said there were suspicious foreigners on her front porch.

When officers arrived at the house in the city of Yurihonjo, they found eight men. The men later said they were from North Korea and had left port a month earlier. They said they washed ashore after their engine broke down.

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