The South Korean Fisheries official shot dead by North’s soldiers and his body later burnt, was trying to defect, Seoul has revealed.
The 47-year-old official left his patrol vessel and jumped into the sea with a life jacket and a flotation device attached. The official appeared to have drifted into North Korean waters, crossing the Northern Limit Line. He was picked up the North’s soldiers taken to a base before being shot dead on orders from “higher ups.”
“I am very sorry for the shocking incident. It is unacceptable for any reason. The North Korean authorities must take responsible responses and actions. The military should be fully prepared to protect the lives and safety of the people by further strengthening their alert posture,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in remarked.
It is the first time a South Korean civilian was killed by the North since 2008. A 53-year-old tourist was fatally shot by North Korean soldier for wandered into a restricted area.
“The North Korean military’s shooting of an unarmed South Korean civilian with no intention to resist and damaging his body cannot be justified in any reason,” Suh Choo-suk, deputy director of the national security office who doubles as chief of the secretariat of the National Security Council, said after the emergency NSC meeting.
Over 30,000 North Koreans have reportedly fled to South Korea since the Korean War for political and economic reasons. But instances of South Koreans wanting to go to Pyongyang are unusual, reports said.
A North Korean defector slipped back to North Korea this July, prompting the country to impose a lockdown of a border city and declare a state of emergency over coronavirus concerns.
Last year, Choe In-guk, the son of high-profile South Korean defector - a former foreign minister - also reportedly moved to North Korea, in a rare case of someone seeking to settle in the dictatorship.