North Korea Apologizes for Killing of a South Korean Official

North Korea Apologizes for Killing of a South Korean Official

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday apologized for the developments surrounding a South Korean civil servant who was allegedly killed and incinerated by the North Korean military.

The 47-year-old was killed by North Korean troops and his body burned, the Defense Ministry said, an act that Seoul labeled an "atrocity".

A top South Korean military officer, Ahn Young Ho, told South Korean parliament Thursday that the north probably shot the man due to "elevated" anti-coronavirus measures that involve "indiscriminate shooting" at those who try and cross the border illegally.

The incident with the fisheries official was described by South Korean President Moon Jae-in as shocking.

"I sincerely wish for everyone's well-being", Kim said in the letter, which was released in full by the South Korean Blue House.

According to the North Korean message, North Korean troops first fired blanks after the man did not fully explain why he was there, rather than saying he was from South Korea.

At the same meeting, defence minister Suh Wook said they believe the official was attempting to defect to North Korea because he left his shoes on the ship, put on a life jacket and boarded a floating object.

The shooting came a day after Moon proposed a new initiative including North Korea to the U.N. General Assembly and called for a formal termination of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, a long-standing North Korean demand. Officials also said they were checking his cellphone records, bank accounts and insurance programs to gain more insight into his disappearance.

The flowers were handed over to an official by the Indonesian Ambassador to the republic on Tuesday, North Korean state news agency KCNA reported.

Kim 'apologises for killing of South Korean official'

Following some past killings of South Korean civilians, the North expressed "regret", often later blaming Seoul for the incidents.

On Friday, in a speech for Armed Forces Day, Moon did not mention the incident, or North Korea, but pledged to safeguard the public.

In his letter to Kim, Moon pointed out that both Koreas are going through "big predicaments", from the coronavirus to heavy monsoon rain and typhoon damage.

Earlier this week, a South Korean fisheries official went missing while on duty on an inspection boat near the South-North border.

The North was informing the South of the results of its own probe into what happened in the notice sent by the United Front Department (UFD), a Workers' Party organ handling inter-Korean relations.

President Moon Jae-in called the killing a "shocking" incident that could not be tolerated. South Korean media said he had recently divorced and had financial problems.

The country's National Security Council said the North could "not justify shooting and burning the corpse of our unarmed citizen who showed no sign of resistance".

Pyongyang has closed its borders and declared an emergency to try to protect itself against the virus, which has swept the world since first emerging in neighbouring China.

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