North Korea ‘killed and burned South Korean official’
The South Korean island of Yeonpyeong is located near the border with the north
A South Korean official was shot and burned by North Korean troops, the South Defense Ministry said, condemning the “brutal act”.
Seoul said the man who worked for the fisheries department disappeared from a patrol boat near the border and was later found in northern waters.
North Korean soldiers shot him, then poured oil on his body and set him on fire, the ministry said. It believed it was an anti-coronavirus measure.
Pyongyang has not commented.
The border between the Koreas is closely monitored and it is believed that a “shoot-to-kill” policy is in place in the north to prevent Covid-19 from entering the country.
The incident would be the second time North Korean troops shot a South Korean civilian. In July 2008, a tourist was shot dead by a soldier on Mount Kumgang.
What did South Korea say?
The officer was on his patrol boat about 10 km from the northern border near Yeonpyeong Island when he disappeared Monday, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said.
The 47-year-old father of two left his shoes on the boat. It is believed that he tried to defeat, a rare but not unprecedented move.
A North Korean patrol boat found the man wearing a life jacket at sea around 3:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday, Seoul added.
They put gas masks on and questioned him from a distance before taking orders from [a] Overriding authority “came in that the man was killed. He was shot in the water.
North Korean forces then cremated the body at sea, officials from the South Korean Ministry of Defense said, adding that it may have been an anti-coronavirus measure.
What was the reaction like?
President Moon Jae-in called the killing a “shocking” incident that cannot be tolerated. He urged the north to take “responsible” measures against the attack.
The country’s National Security Council said the North “could not justify shooting and burning the body of our unarmed citizen who showed no sign of resistance”.
“This military action violates international regulations,” said Suh-Choo-suk, Secretary General of the National Security Council. “We will react decisively to all actions by North Korea that endanger the life and security of our people.”
At a press conference earlier, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said it “strongly condemned such a brutal act and urged the North to make a statement and punish those responsible”.
Officials said they did “a thorough analysis of various pieces of information” but it was not clear how exactly they gathered the information.
The military hotline between North and South was cut in June and the inter-Korean liaison office, which was supposed to assist both sides in communication, was destroyed by North Korea. However, the South Korean military is known to intercept radio communications from the north, reports the AFP news agency.
What is the background?
North Korean officials may do whatever they can to ensure the country is not affected by the coronavirus pandemic, reports Laura Bicker, correspondent for BBC Seoul.
Authorities are believed to be preparing for a major military parade on October 10 to mark the 75th anniversary of the ruling Labor Party.
“This parade is a major potential virus risk,” said Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, a news service specializing in North Korea, on Twitter. “It seems paranoia about this risk is at play with the rules for shooting to kill.”
North Korea is on the border with China
Pyongyang closed its border with China in January to prevent contamination. In July, North Korean state media said the country had increased its state of emergency to the maximum.
Last month, the US Forces Commander in South Korea, Robert Abrams, said the north had introduced a new “buffer zone” of one to two kilometers along the Chinese border and that the country had set up special forces with orders to “shoot someone” kill “who comes across the border.
In the past, North Korea has also brought back people who migrated to its territory. In 2017, the state news agency KCNA announced that officials would return a South Korean fishing boat that “illegally” crossed the border in a rare humanitarian move.
However, North Korea is more commonly known for imposing heavy penalties for rule violations. The country makes liberal use of the death penalty and is known to carry out public executions.