“Comrade Kim Jong Un, Chairman of the State Affairs Committee, is very sorry to disappoint President Moon Jae-in and the South Korean citizens because an unexpected and unfortunate incident has occurred” at a time when the South Korea is grappling with the coronavirus pandemic, Moon Councilor Suh Hoon quoted the North Korean message.
South Korea on Thursday accused North Korea of shooting and killing one of its officials who was probably trying to defect and burn his body after finding him on Tuesday on an object floating in northern waters. Korean. South Korean officials condemned North Korea for what they called an “atrocious act” and insisted that it punish those responsible.
According to the North Korean message, North Korean troops fired blank firing for the first time after the man found in northern waters refused to respond other than saying that he had been from South Korea on several occasions . Then, as he tried to flee, North Korean troops fired 10 shots. When they approached the floating object, they found only a lot of blood but no sign of it.
The troops determined he was dead and burned the floating object in accordance with anti-coronavirus rules, according to the North Korean post read by Suh.
South Korean military officer Ahn Young Ho said at a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday that North Korea had killed the man likely due to high anti-coronavirus measures that involve “indiscriminate shooting” on anyone illegally approached its borders.
Defense Minister Suh Wook said at the same meeting that the official tried to defect because he left his shoes on the ship, put on a life jacket and boarded a floating object. Suh also cited circumstantial evidence indicating the attempted defection. Some experts say there was not enough evidence to conclude that he attempted to cross North Korea.
The North Korean message was sent by the United Front Department of the ruling Workers’ Party, a top North Korean body responsible for relations with South Korea.
The message said that North Korea “cannot help but express great regret” that South Korea used “blasphemous and confrontational words as an atrocious act” to condemn the North without asking it to do so. ‘explain the details of the incident. But he said North Korea was still sorry that such an incident happened on its territory and that it would take action to prevent trust between the countries from collapsing.
The South Korean Coast Guard said earlier on Friday that their ships were looking for waters near the border in case the official’s body drifted. The western maritime border is where several bloody inter-Korean naval skirmishes and deadly attacks blamed on North Korea have taken place in recent years.
Coast Guard officials said they were also checking the man’s cell phone records, bank accounts and insurance programs to find out more about his disappearance. They said the 47-year-old father-of-two was in debt but gave no further details.