Three others were rescued and taken to a hospital in the southern island province of Jeju, officials said.
Rescuers were searching for the missing sailors in cooperation with Japanese authorities, they said.
The 4,300-ton class Grand Fortune sank at around 01:19 a.m. in waters about 74 kilometers south of Geomun Island off Yeosu, after sending an SOS, the Coast Guard said.
The vessel carrying 50 tons of heavy oil and 6,500 tons of iron ore and copper powder was sailing from Cheongjin on North Korea’s east coast to a Chinese port.
The Coast Guard said it is investigating the cause of the accident.
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