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North Korea seizes South Korean fishing vessel

South Korea is asking North Korea to release a fishing boat and its four crew members.

This undated black-and-white handout image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a aerial view of a North Korean rocket launch site. North Korea is loading a Taepodong rocket on its east coast launch pad in anticipation of the launch of a communications satellite early next month, U.S. officials say. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - South Korea is asking North Korea to release a fishing boat and its four crew members.

Officials confirm that the North seized the boat after it accidentally strayed into the North's waters. An official with South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the boat's satellite navigation system may have malfunctioned. The official says the 29-ton vessel has been taken to a North Korean port.

A government spokeswoman says North Korea has confirmed receiving the request to release the boat. She says North Korean officials are looking into the matter.

Relations between the two Koreas deteriorated last year after a conservative, pro-U.S. government took office in Seoul (sohl), and began advocating a tougher policy toward the North. In retaliation, Pyongyang cut off ties and halted all major joint projects except a joint industrial complex located just across the border in North Korea.

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