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(LEAD) N.K. leader apologizes to S. Koreans for shooting case, Cheong Wa Dae says

North Korea 15:01 September 25, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 2nd para)

SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has offered an apology to the South Korean people for the killing of a South Korean civil servant by its military earlier this week, Cheong Wa Dae announced Friday.

In a formal notice sent to the South, the North conveyed Kim's message that he feels "very sorry" for greatly "disappointing" President Moon Jae-in and other South Koreans with the occurrence of the "unsavory" case in its waters, instead of helping them amid their suffering from the new coronavirus, according to Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae.

The North was informing the South of the results of its own probe into what happened in the notice sent by the United Front Department, a Workers' Party organ handling inter-Korean relations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an enlarged meeting of the political bureau of the Workers' Party's central committee in Pyongyang on Aug. 25, 2020, to discuss issues involving COVID-19 and the approaching Typhoon Bavi, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

The North said the "unidentified" man, who crossed the western sea border without authorization, did not respond sincerely to its verbal security checks aboard a floating material about 80 meters away.

Approaching the material, the North's troops shot two blanks, and he was seen as attempting to flee. They then fired more than 10 gunshots at the distance of 40-50 meters under the related rules of engagement for maritime border security, according to the North's account.

After shooting, they searched the floating material but only found plenty of blood, not his body, the North claimed.

They burned the material in accordance with the state emergency guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19, it added.

The North also expressed regret over the South Korean military's "unilateral" announcement related to the incident the previous day.

Meanwhile, Moon and Kim have recently exchanged personal letters, Suh added.

A Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters later the letters were delivered to each other "within the past one month."

Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae, speaks during a press briefing in Seoul on Sept. 25, 2020. (Yonhap)

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

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