Illegal Fishing North Korean Ambassador Caught and Released

Berlin police recently caught the North Korean ambassador to Germany fishing without a license, according to local media reports. But there was nothing they could do -- the envoy enjoys diplomatic immunity.

The Havel River in Berlin: The perfect place for a bit of fishing.

The Havel River in Berlin: The perfect place for a bit of fishing.

In recent years, there have been numerous reports of foreign diplomats in Berlin abusing their diplomatic immunity by committing crimes. Traffic violations appear to be the most common offense, but diplomats have also been accused of exploiting domestic employees and even theft. Most of the time, all they have to do is show their diplomatic passport to get off scot-free.

This week, it would seem, a new transgression must be added to the list. Berlin newspapers are reporting that the North Korean ambassador to Germany did a bit of fishing on Sunday -- albeit without a license.

According to reports in dailies Berliner Morgenpost and BZ, Berlin police discovered a man fishing on the Havel River in the city's Spandau neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. When the officials asked to see the man's fishing license, he apparently responded by saying he was the North Korean ambassador.

According to the reports, the angler did not have any proof of identity on him, nor did he have a fishing license. The police then asked their colleagues to bring them a current photograph of the ambassador and his personal details. When they arrived, the officers reportedly confirmed that the man was indeed the ambassador, Si Hong Ri, who took his current position in September 2011.

The officers then apparently told the ambassador to cease his illegal fishing activities. According to the police report quoted by the Berliner Morgenpost and the BZ, "the ambassador politely acknowledged (the request) with a smile and continued with the offense." The police were unable to do anything, given the man's diplomatic immunity.

When contacted by SPIEGEL ONLINE on Thursday, a Berlin police spokesman confirmed that a report had been filed on Sunday but declined to comment on the identity of the person involved. Fishing without a license is a crime in Germany punishable with up to two years in prison or a fine.

'Token of Mourning'

As it happens, the North Korean embassy in Berlin appears to have a special affinity with nature. On Thursday, the official North Korean news agency reported a "natural wonder" that occurred at the embassy in Berlin on Dec. 20, the day after the news of the death of leader Kim Jong-il was announced. A small songbird spent an hour at the entrance to the embassy, apparently paying tribute to the late Kim. "It seemed that upon hearing the sad news of the demise of the outstanding great man, the bird flew to the mourning station to express condolences and flew away after standing vigil," the news agency reported on its English site.

A plant also blossomed during the whole mourning period in memory of Kim, despite the cold winter weather. "The prunus mume came into bloom in such cold winter day (sic) in token of mourning his demise," the agency story read. The North Korean official media has reported multiple such supernatural incidents in North Korea since Kim's death.

dgs -- with wire reports

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