09/25/2020, 11.47
KOREA
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Kim Jong-un apologizes for killing of South Korean civilian

The official of the Seoul Ministry of Fisheries was killed by the border forces of Pyongyang: for the Covid-19 emergency, they have orders to "shoot to kill" those who try to cross the border. The apology sent in a letter to the president of the South Moon Jae-in: a rare occurrence in the troubled history between the two countries still at war.

Seoul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Kim Jong-un has apologized for the killing of a South Korean civilian in the territorial waters of North Korea. The apology was confirmed by Suh Hoon, director of the South Korea National Security Bureau, this morning.

Yesterday Seoul revealed that an official from the Department of Oceans and Fisheries was killed by North Korean border soldiers. The man, 47, was on board a vessel that was inspecting  the waters near the island of Yeonpyeong, in the Yellow Sea. South Korean authorities suspect that he attempted to defect to the North by swimming on floats towards the border.

By Pyongyang's own admission, North Korean special forces intercepted the southern citizen as he crossed over by sea. After refusing to provide his personal details and attempting to escape, he was shot dead under the anti-Covid-19 legislation, which requires the Northern military to "shoot to kill" anyone who tries to infiltrate the country. The North Koreans, however, denied the Seoul version that the official's body was burned and then thrown into the sea: they would have set fire only to the "floating material" used by the victim.

It is rare for the Pyongyang regime to make amends for incidents with South Korea. Kim sent his apologies to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in a personal letter, saying he was "sorry" for what happened and for having "disappointed" him and the people of the South.

The two Koreas are still technically at war; North and South never signed a peace treaty at the end of the conflict that raged between them from 1950 to 1953. In recent months the tension between the two sides has grown considerably. In mid-June, Kim threatened to send his troops into the demilitarized zone between the two countries, in retaliation for the launch of defamatory leaflets into his territory by dissidents sheltered in the South. The order was withdrawn a few days ago after. First, however, Pyongyang blew up the building that housed the contact office with Seoul in the North Korean city of Kaesong.

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