Russian border protection soldiers killed a North Korean sailor during a brawl on a boat that the Russian authorities had stopped to search.
At least eight more North Koreans were injured during the incident in the Sea of Japan, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), a successor agency of the Soviet KGB, said in a statement.
One soldier suffered a head injury during the attack.
The border protection unit was searching a ship with 48 sailors on board when the crew attacked the border patrol.
The Russian border soldiers opened fire in response.
During the search an "illegal load" was found, the statement said.