North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has expressed his apologies over the death of a South Korean maritime official who was shot by North Korean soldiers after crossing the maritime border between these two regions. The letter containing the apology was sent to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday. The note also explained that the North Korean troops only responded to reports that an identified person was found floating in the sea. The soldiers allegedly fired at the man when he failed to identify himself. The body was later burned to comply with North Korea’s Covid-19 prevention measures.
Read: Official from South Korea Shot Dead by North Korean Soldiers
CNN: Apologies from Kim are rare, especially when it comes to apparent mistakes by the country’s military
CNN disclosed that in the letter of apology sent to South Korea’s Blue House Friday morning, North Korea also explained that their units responded to a call that an unidentified male was found floating on an object in the sea. The letter claims about 10 rounds were fired at the man after he did not comply with a soldier’s demand to identify himself and subsequent warning shots.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un asked to convey that he feels very sorry that instead of giving aid to our compatriots in the South who is struggling with Covid epidemic, we have given President Moon and our compatriots in the South a great disappointment with this unseen misfortune in our sea,” the letter read, according to the Blue House.
The statement added that North Korea has strengthened its maritime surveillance and apologized for “an incident that will clearly negatively impact inter-Korean relation.”
Reuters: The apology came in a letter a day after South Korean officials said the North’s soldiers killed the man, doused his body in fuel and set it on fire
The rare conciliatory message from the North Korean leader came as Moon faced intense political fallout over the incident, which coincided with a renewed push by him for engagement with North Korea, Reuters reports.
“Chairman Kim Jong Un asked to convey his feeling that he is greatly sorry that an unexpected unsavoury incident occurred in our waters which hugely disappointed President Moon Jae-in and compatriots in the South,” the adviser, Suh Hoon, told reporters.
Suh said the letter was a response to requests for an explanation for the incident and included a promise to prevent any recurrence.
North Korea expressed hope the incident would not undermine recent efforts to foster trust, Suh said, adding Moon and Kim had exchanged letters this month.