A shooting in North Korea’s territorial sea . . .
A South Korean official affiliated with Seoul’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries was reported missing on Monday. North Korean soldiers found the man in the country’s territorial sea the following day, and on Thursday, he was confirmed dead. Officials from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that there is evidence that he was trying to defect to North Korea, but the man’s family has denied this.
Disputed accounts of events . . .
What exactly happened remains unclear. South Korean officials stated that upon finding the man on Tuesday, North Korean soldiers questioned him from a distance, and later shot him and burned his body. South Korean officials suspect that the soldiers were abiding by recently implemented anti-coronavirus measures, such as the “shoot-to-kill” order at North Korea’s border with China. North Korea has a different account, calling the South Korean official an “illegal intruder.” North Korean officials stated that after finding the man at sea, they attempted to question him, but he refused to reveal his identity. The North Korean soldiers allege that they fired warning shots, and the man tried to escape. The soldiers then fired more shots, ultimately killing the man. They later found the man’s flotation device, which they stated they burned due to North Korea’s COVID-19 measures. They maintain that they did not burn the body.
Tensions assuaged by North Korean apology . . .
While this incident initially risked fuelling inter-Korea tensions, North Korea has since apologized. President Kim Jong-un sent a letter to the Blue House on Friday, stating that he was “very sorry” for the “big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and the people of the South.” This is the first apology issued in President Kim Jong-un’s name since he took power almost a decade ago. This event also comes as the Globe and Mail published an article stating that Canada's federal government had developed a 2019 strategy for “enhanced diplomatic engagement” with North Korea. North Korea’s formal apology could help promote communication between the two Koreas, which would impact any potential Canadian engagement with North Korea.