Kim Jong Un Offers Rare Apology

North Korean leader says he regrets the killing of a South Korean citizen
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2020 6:18 AM CDT
Updated Sep 25, 2020 6:43 AM CDT
Kim Jong Un Offers Rare Apology
A South Korean navy ship is seen near Yeonpyeong island, South Korea, on Friday.   (Baek Seung-ryul/Yonhap via AP)

Kim Jong Un has offered a rare apology for what the BBC describes as the first killing of a South Korean citizen by the North in a decade. The South Korean government official may have been trying to defect to North Korea when he disappeared from a government ship, leaving behind his shoes. He turned up, alive and in a life jacket, in North Korean waters on Tuesday. The South says North Korean troops then fatally shot the 47-year-old fisheries department employee and set his body on fire. A letter sent to South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday said Kim felt "very sorry" for the "disgraceful affair," which never should have happened, and for "disappointing" the South Korean people, according to South Korea's presidential office. The letter stated that more than 10 shots were fired at the man, who'd failed to identify himself and then tried to flee.

The North claimed only to have burned the floating material that the man had been clutching, which it says was some distance from the body. South Korea's director of national security, Suh Hoon, said North Korea said this was done "under national emergency disease prevention measures." Suh noted it wasn't the first letter sent by Kim this month. In a letter to Moon dated Sept. 12, Kim referred to the pandemic, adding it was his "sincere intent to share the hardships and sufferings South Korea is experiencing" and "earnest wishes for the health and welfare of South Koreans." The Washington Post's take: "Seoul’s release of the North Korean letter expressing sympathies over the coronavirus suggested that neither side was willing to risk an extended rupture in relations as a result of the official’s killing." (More North Korea stories.)

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