LONDON: Iran’s seizure of a South Korean-flagged tanker has provoked anger in Seoul and dominated news outlets there with calls to free the vessel.
Meanwhile, in Iran there has been gloating among media over the capture of the Hankuk Chemi by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) on Monday in the Strait of Hormuz.
Korea demanded that Iran release the vessel and sent a navy anti-piracy unit to the area. On Tuesday Seoul said it planned to dispatch a delegation of officials to secure the release of the ship and its crew.
Iran claimed the ship was captured because it was causing pollution in the Arabian Gulf. But Tehran has also accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of funds for oil sales due to tough US sanctions.
In an editorial entitled “Bring them back,” the “Korea JoongAng Daily” said the 20 crew members, including five Korean nationals, must be released.
The “Korean Herald” print front page led with the headline “Seoul demands release of S. Korean tanker seized by Iran, sends military” with a giant photo from the ship’s bridge with the IRGC speedboat alongside.
Korea’s attempt to find a way out of the crisis was in marked contrast to the approach of Iranian news websites, which trumpeted the ship’s capture as a major success.
While Tehran on Tuesday continued to claim the seizure was not related to the frozen funds it claims it is owed, outlets liked to the IRGC made clear it was directly related.
IRGC media Tasnim makes it clear that seizing South Korea tanker is related to frozen funds from oil revenues.— Farnaz Fassihi (@farnazfassihi) January 5, 2021
headline: "Clean answer to revenue thieves."
subhead: "Seizing ship is good pretext for releasing Iran's revenues in South Korea estimated $8 billion." pic.twitter.com/MEB0ISwS4q
The Tasnim News Agency, which published photos and video of the ship being taken to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, ran a headline saying “A clean response to revenue thieves.”
Vatan Emrooz, a hardline newspaper, carried a front-page image of the ship with the headline “We captured the thieves.”