South Korea was swept over by outrage as it was made known that the North had unfortunately shot a South Korean citizen to death, near the borders. It is said that the man, who worked for the fisheries department, had disappeared from his patrol boat off the island of Yeonpyung, South Korea. The island lies near the border near North Korean waters.
It is reported that the man was shot multiple times while in water. The North had issued an explanation that they had questioned his identity and purpose, and discovered that he had planned to defect. However, as he refused to reveal his identity, they received “higher orders” to shoot the man. It is noted that his family has denied allegations that he planned to defect.
According to unspecified intelligence received, the South claimed that the man had been burned at sea. North Korea denied these allegations in their apology letter that came on 25 September 2020, claiming that after he was shot, his body could not be found. Hence, they only burned his life vest as a preventive measure in case of coronavirus.
The apology letter is a rare one, given that North Korea rarely issues apologies, much less directly from their leader. Kim Jong Un, the current leader of the state, expressed that he was “very sorry” about the “disgraceful affair” and apologized for disappointing both South Koreans and their president, Moon Jae In.
The South and North have been at high tension recently, due to the nuclear standoff between Pyongyang and Washington, United States. In the past few years, there has been buzz with regards to tong-il, a reunification of the two Korean states. However, it seems like this is unlikely to happen now that opinions of the North have turned sour once again.