Kim Jong Un 'very sorry' over killing of South Korean, Seoul says

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The case involves an official of the South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries who went missing while on duty on a patrol vessel in the Yellow Sea on Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has offered a rare apology over the killing of a South Korean official near the disputed sea boundary.

South Korea has said the 47-year-old man was allegedly trying to defect to North Korea when he was found by troops floating in the North's waters.

In the very unusually long and detailed explanation, which North Korea rarely issued over any conflicts in the past, the North also expressed "big regret" that the South Korean military accused them on Thursday of committing an atrocious act without proof and prior to requesting an explanation. But the North denied that his body was burned.

Reading from the letter, the South's national security adviser Suh Hoon said Pyongyang acknowledged firing about 10 shots at the man, who had "illegally entered our waters" and refused to properly identify himself. The troops then fired 10 rounds at the man when he tried to escape. "Many bloodstains" were said to have been found on the floating material.

According to the message read by Suh, the troops determined he was dead and burned the floating object in line with anti-coronavirus rules.

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A North Korean flag flutters on top of a 160-metre tower in North Korea's propaganda village of Gijungdong, in this picture taken from the Tae Sung freedom village near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), inside the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, April 24, 2018.

A South Korean government ship for fishery guidance is seen near Yeonpyeong island, South Korea.

Moon praised Kim's "strong resolve to save lives" and steer virus control and flood recovery work in his September 8 letter, his office said.

South Korea called the killing a "crime against humanity" and asked North Korea to apologise and put measures in place to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents in the future. How the letters were exchanged was not revealed. "Collapsed houses can be rebuilt, disconnected bridges can be reconnected and fallen rice plants can be set upright again, but people's lives are an absolute value that cannot be restored and cannot be traded with anything else", Moon said, adding it was pertinent to "protect the lives and safety of our 80 million people".

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 29, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attending a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

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