North Korean leader Kim apologizes over killing of South Korean official
North Korea apologized to its neighbor South Korea on Friday for the shooting of a South Korean official found near the sea boundary of the two countries, according to The Associated Press.
“Comrade Kim Jong Un, the State Affairs Commission chairman, feels very sorry to give big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and South Korean citizens because an unexpected, unfortunate incident happened” Suh Hoon, adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, citing the North Korean apology.
It is highly uncommon for North Korea to apologize over any of its actions regarding South Korea, the wire service noted.
The apology comes after South Korea accused North Korea of shooting and killing a public servant who was most likely trying to defect to the north, floating on an object in North Korean waters Tuesday. According to South Korea, North Koreans burned the body, in an “atrocious act.”
In its apology message, North Korea said that at first, its military fired blanks on the defector after the man refused to answer questions, except for stating he was from South Korea. When he tried to escape from their fire, the troops fired 10 rounds on the man. They later found lots of blood in the water, but no body and decided to burn the object he was floating on, the AP reported.
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.
While North Korea apologized over the shooting, Kim Jong Un scolded the south, saying that he expressed “regrets” that the country would use such “blasphemous” language to describe the incident as an “atrocious act.” He added that he is still sorry that the incident occurred, and will take steps to ensure trust between the bordering countries once more.
News of the shooting comes as the world is still struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic. North Korea has struggled with the disease while also battling severe floods in August, according to a report from The New York Times. The country refused outside aid at the time, with Kim saying that others entering the country would bring more COVID-19.
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