Twenty-nine Chinese fishermen that were being held hostage in the Yellow Sea have been freed and are already home, according to reports from Chinese state media.
The group, along with their three boats, had been held captive for over 10 days by a group of unidentified North Koreans.
The North Korean foreign ministry informed the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang, which had been leading the negotiating efforts, that the men were released and were on their way back to China.
The captors had been reportedly demanding a ransom for the hostages, but it remains unclear as to whether or not the ransom was paid. The entire situation is clouded in mystery, as authorities from Beijing and Pyongyang have not been forthcoming with specific details.
The North Koreans could have been citizens engaging in piracy, or acting with North Korean state authority.
The owner of the boats involved in the incident remains adamant that his fishermen were in Chinese waters. Zhang Dechang told Chinese media that he was contacted by the captors, who allegedly included Chinese and North Koreans, who demanded a ransom payment.
He also told media that the fishermen were held in a small house and given little to no food to eat. Although China remains silent on the details, according to the embassy in Pyongyang, the Chinese Ambassador and his staff were integral in securing the release of the hostages, who are said to be in good health.
Although China and North Korea are allies, the relationship between the two countries has recently been strained, and the Yellow Sea often sees minor clashes and incidents between vessels from the two countries.