A South Korean naval unit has rescued a Democratic People's Republic of Korea's vessel from being hijacked by suspected pirates in Somali waters, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a news release on Monday.
The incident took place at 02:40 GMT Monday along the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor, the news release said.
A South Korean warship, Munmu the Great, which has been operating in the Gulf of Aden as part of a U.S.-led multinational anti-piracy campaign since early last month, received a call for help from the DPRK vessel and dispatched its Linx helicopter, the news release said.
"Having come as close as 3 km to the North Korean (DPRK) ship, the suspected pirates turned away after seeing the South Korean attack helicopter arrive," the news letter said, adding that the rescued DPRK ship expressed thanks to the South Korean naval unit.
Somalia has not had a functional government since 1991. Poverty has driven a large number of locals to piracy.
The two Koreas, remaining technically at war after their 1950-53 Korean War ended without a formal peace treaty, cooled down their relation since the Lee Myung-bak-led new South Korean government took office in February last year.
According to the U.S. navy, about two dozen hijackings have occurred this year, well ahead of the pace in 2008.
Pirates use conventional weapons, such as automatic weapons and rocket launchers, and capture commercial vessels by clambering aboard with ladders and grappling hooks.