Hong Kong (CNN)Two members of five-person North Korean boat crew that drifted into South Korean waters were repatriated on Tuesday morning, a Unification Ministry official confirmed.
Two rescued North Korean fisherman repatriated
The handover took place at the truce village of Panmunjom where family members received them.
The five fishermen were rescued on July 3 by the South Korean coast guard after the boat's engine failed causing it to drift into South Korean waters.
While two men expressed their desire to return to North Korea, the other three crew members said they wanted to defect, a South Korean official said.
North Korea's Red Cross sent a stern message to its South Korean counterpart accusing them of forcing people to defect.
"It is a known fact that the authorities of the South has been persistently coercing our people who have drifted to the South to defect to South Korea," the statement said.
"The South should stop its conventional measures that don't work on anybody and immediately return our people."
However South Korea has refused to identify or hand them over on the grounds that the three "clearly expressed [to stay] on their free will," a Unification Ministry official said.