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North Korea apologizes for shooting of South Korea official

September 25, 2020

The death of a goverment employee was an unfortunate event that should never happened, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said. Troops reportedly shot the man more than 10 times as part of coronavirus control measures.

Kim Jong Un
Image: Reuters/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued an apology Friday over the shooting of a South Korean government official.

In comments carried by South Korean news agency Yonhap, Kim said he was "greatly sorry," and expressed his hope that "confidence between the two Koreas" was not damaged."

Military officials from the South say that troops interrogated, shot and then burned the body of a government employee found in North Korean waters earlier this week. Seoul said the man may have been trying to defect.

The 47-year-old, an official from the South Korean Fisheries Ministry, had been reported missing from a government boat near the disputed sea boundary between the rival countries.

North Korea said more than 10 shots were fired at the man "intruding into the North's waters" as part of strict measures to prevent a coronavirus outbreak, according to Yonhap. The North said it had burned the floating object carrying the man, but not his body.

Read more: What's driving North Korea's aggression toward the South? 

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'Unfortunate' incident

The South's national security adviser told a briefing that Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in had exchanged personal letters. Kim was "very sorry" for "disappointing" President Moon and called the incident "unexpected" and "unfortunate," the official said.

Read moreNorth Korea and coronavirus: Hide-and-seek with the world

It is extremely unusual for a North Korean leader to issue an apology to the South.

Seoul had condemned its rival over the incident on Thursday.

"Our military strongly demands North Korea provide explanations and punish those who are responsible," South Korean General Ahn Young Ho said at a press briefing.

nm/rt (AFP, Reuters)