SEOUL: South Korea’s presidential office said on Saturday (Sep 26) it will ask North Korea to further investigate the fatal shooting of a South Korean official, as public and political outrage over the killing grew.
After a National Security Council meeting last night, South Korea said it would call for a joint probe into the case with the North if needed, saying there were discrepancies in accounts of the accident from the two sides.
South Korea’s military said on Thursday that the North’s soldiers killed the man,doused his body in fuel and set it on fire near the sea border.
But the North Korean government said in a message on Friday that its soldiers shot the “illegal intruder” and denied burning his body.
In a rare move on Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was quoted as offering an apology for disappointing his counterpart Moon Jae-in and the South Korean people.
The main opposition People Power Party said on Saturday Kim’s apology was not genuine, and that the case should be sent to the International Criminal Court and the US Security Council.
The Moon government faces intense political pressure over how it responded to the incident, which coincided with a renewed push by the president for engagement with Pyongyang.
Critics accused Moon of failing to save a citizen’s life and being soft on North Korea, saying the military did not attempt to save him despite spotting him six hours before he was shot dead.
The government official was reported missing while on duty on a fisheries boat near the island of Yeonpyeongdo close to South Korea’s sea border.
South Korean officials said the man had run up debt and likely sought to defect to the North. But his brother refuted that, saying he had just got a new boat and must have had some sort of accident.
“Not everyone who has debts wants to go to the North,” the brother, Lee Rae-jin, said on social media.
“What the military was doing when he was floating around our waters for almost a day?”