Sep 25, 2020 12:06 UTC
  • North Korea expresses ‘regret’ over ‘unfortunate’ killing of South Korean: Seoul

Seoul says North Korea has expressed regret over the “unfortunate” and "unexpected" killing of a South Korean official for fear of carrying the coronavirus in the North's territory this week.

According to Press TV, South Korea said Thursday the North’s United Front Department, which is in charge of cross-border ties, sent a letter to President Moon Jae-in's office to express regret over the killing of an official at South Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The man, 47, whose name was not made public, had disappeared off a patrol vessel and ended up in the North’s waters.

The man was aboard a vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong, shot to death and his body was set ablaze in the waters.

The letter cited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as saying he was "sorry" that the incident disappointed the South Korean public and should not have happened, said Moon's security adviser Suh Hoon.

The South Korean president described the killing as a “stunning and deeply regrettable act that cannot be tolerated.”

The South’s Defense Ministry called it “atrocious” and demanded that Pyongyang punish those responsible.

This is the first time a South Korean has been killed in the North since 2008, when North Korean troops shot to death a South Korean tourist who had accidentally strolled into an off-limits area.

Last month, North Korea declared a state of emergency after a person suspected of having the coronavirus returned from South Korea by illegally crossing the border.

The person had defected to South Korea three years ago, and returned across the fortified border that divides the two Koreas with symptoms that suggested COVID-19 — the disease caused by coronavirus.

The two Koreas are still technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice but not a peace treaty.