SEOUL — A South Korean fisherman who floated into North Korean waters April 13 was handed back to South Korean officials at 3 p.m. Monday, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

A South Korean coastal guard picked up Hwang Hong-ryun, 57, according to Col. Won Tae-je, a spokesman at the Joint Chiefs of Staff for MND.

Earlier, Won told Stars and Stripes that South Korean officials believe a drunken Hwang meant to defect when he piloted his fishing boat from the port city of Sokcho toward North Korean waters.

Won said Monday that National Investigation Service, South Korean military and Sokcho Police Agency officials will question Hwang.

Won said previously that the incident has prompted the South Korean army, navy and coast guard to develop a more detailed plan about how to react to future sea defections. He said part of a new plan would include establishing a chain of command and command center to direct future incidents.

New South Korean currency

SEOUL — The Bank of Korea gradually will issue new, smaller-sized currency, it announced this week.

Jung Suk-jo, a bank spokesman, said Monday that the new bills will help fight counterfeiting.

Jung said the 5,000-won (about $5) bill will be replaced first because it is the most popular to counterfeit. The new 5,000-won bills will be introduced early next year, he said, and new 1,000-won (about $1) and 10,000-won bills will debut in early 2007.

He said taking the older currency out of circulation is not planned.

Spyware crackdown

SEOUL — Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors’ Office confirmed Monday that it’s cracking down on computer spyware — a secret code that permits unauthorized access to a computer, letting someone observe the user’s activity and even control the computer.

Lee Ki-young, chief detective for the prosecutor’s computer criminal investigation unit, said 10 suspects have been indicted. He said the investigations will continue.

Lee said his office, which launched the investigation, received complaints from victims whose computers were targeted with by spyware programs. His team monitors Internet portal sites and tracks suspicious activity.

King grad wins art prize

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Ernest J. King High School 2004 valedictorian Kyle Aquino, now in the 30th Company at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., recently won an art award to support the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Fund Drive.

Based on the 2005 fund-raising theme, “We protect them while they protect us,” Aquino’s design featured an enlisted sailor back from deployment hugging his girlfriend tightly as his ship lies at anchor in the background. The design has been used on posters supporting the fund-raising effort, according to a school spokeswoman.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Fund Drive provides financial and educational assistance to active duty and retired sailors and Marines, eligible family members and survivors in need. In 2004, the fund helped more than 40,000 sailors and Marines.

Aquino’s father, Chief Petty Officer Edward Aquino of the USS Essex, and the rest of his family are in Sasebo. They’re to transfer to Italy in late May.

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