Yonhap News Agency on January 5, South Korean Foreign Ministry officials met with the Iranian ambassador to South Korea in Seoul on the same day to protest against the detention of a South Korean tanker in the Strait of Hormuz this week.
Koh Kyung-sok, Director-General for Africa and Middle East Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Korea, expressed regret to Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, the Iranian ambassador to South Korea, and called on Iran to release the South Korean ship and its crew at an early date.
Prior to the meeting, Iran’s ambassador to South Korea said that the crew was still safe, but declined to elaborate further. In an interview with reporters, he said, “They are all safe. Don’t worry about [their health].”
According to Yonhap News Agency, at about 3:20 p.m. South Korean time on the 4th, the Korean transport ship “Korean Chemistry” bound for the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was detained by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran.
The ship carried 5 Korean crews, 11 Myanmar crews, 2 Indonesian crews and 2 Vietnamese crews, a total of 20. In response to the incident, the South Korean Qinghai destroyer “Cuiyu” arrived in the sea near the Strait of Hormuz on the 5th.
According to the Iranian Fars News Agency, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran seized a Korean-flagged tanker in the Gulf on the 4th on the grounds that it “has repeatedly violated laws and regulations related to the marine environment”.
The tanker carried about 7,200 tons of petrochemicals, and its crew came from South Korea and several Southeast Asian countries. The ship was seized and docked in southern Iranian ports and handed over to the local judiciary.
According to Xinhua News Agency, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatibzad said on the 4th that the seizure of a South Korean tanker by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on that day was an “ordinary procedure” for technical reasons.
Iranian state media IA quoted Hatibzad as saying that the incident would be dealt with within “legal framework”. Like other countries, Iran is sensitive to issues such as marine environmental pollution.