Pyongyang released an apologetic statement on Friday, acknowledging they shot and killed a man from South Korea who “illegally” entered their territory.
In the statement, North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un said he was “very sorry” for the “unexpected and unfortunate” incident.
According to the Associated Press, the apology is “extremely unusual” but was done to “de-escalate tensions between the Koreas” and “ease anti-North sentiments in South Korea.”
“Comrade Kim Jong Un, the State Affairs Commission chairman, feels very sorry to give big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and South Korean citizens because an unexpected, unfortunate incident happened,” the statement read.
It’s extremely unusual for a North Korean leader to apologize to South Korea on any issue. https://t.co/AZXiFdUsZQ
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The Associated Press reports the man was shot in accordance with coronavirus-related precautions the country has implemented, including the “indiscriminate shooting” of anyone who approaches the border illegally:
South Korea earlier accused North Korea of fatally shooting one of its public servants who was likely trying to defect and burning his body after finding him on a floating object in North Korean waters on Tuesday. South Korean officials condemned what they called an “atrocious act” and pressed North Korea to punish those responsible.
According to the North Korean message, North Korean troops first fired blanks after the man found in the North’s waters refused to answer other than saying he’s from South Korea a couple of times. Then, as he made moves to flee, the North Korean troops fired 10 rounds. When they came near the floating object, they only found lots of blood but no sign of him.
The troops determined he was dead and burned the floating object in line with anti-coronavirus rules, according to the North Korean message read by Suh.
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Senior South Korean military officer Ahn Young Ho told a parliamentary committee meeting Thursday that North Korea killed the man likely because of elevated anti-coronavirus measures that involve “indiscriminate shooting” at anyone approaching its borders illegally.