North Koreans Shot and Burned Missing South Korean Official, Seoul Says

The incident threatens to stoke tensions between the two longtime foes
North Korea, South Korea

This photo taken on April 24, 2018 shows a general view of unidentified fishing boats before the North Korean coastline from a viewpoint on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea at dawn. North Korean forces shot dead a Southern fisheries official who disappeared off a patrol vessel and ended up in Pyongyang’s waters, Seoul’s defence ministry said on September 24, 2020, calling it an “outrageous act”. Photo: Ed Jones / AFP

North Korean soldiers shot and then burned the body of a South Korean official who went missing at sea this week, Seoul confirmed Thursday, demanding those responsible be punished.

General Ahn Young-ho, who is in charge of operations for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, strongly condemned North Korea’s “outrageous act.”

“We sternly warn the North that all responsibilities for this lie with it,” the senior general said.

According to Seoul, the 47-year-old worked for the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and was last seen Monday aboard a boat with other officials around Yeonpyeong Island, west of the South Korean city of Incheon.

He was reported missing after he mysteriously disappeared from the boat, the authorities said on Wednesday. Only his shoes were found in a search.

South Korea dispatched around 20 naval vessels and planes in an attempt to find him.

They now believe he was trying to defect and was floating in a life jacket when found by North Korean soldiers, who put on gas masks and questioned him before opened fire.

After the shooting the soldiers allegedly burned his body, possibly over fears he had COVID-19. The notoriously isolated and secretive hermit kingdom said it had its first suspected infection in July, but later claimed it was negative.

It is unclear how South Korea came to the conclusion of what happened to the official, though they cited intelligence analysis.

His brother also challenged South Korea’s narrative in an interview with Yonhap News TV, arguing he had no reason to want to defect.

Find Junhyup Kwon on Twitter.


Junhyup Kwon
Via Vice News

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