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State auditor launches investigation into death of fisheries official

All News 14:14 June 17, 2022

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- The state audit agency said Friday it has launched an investigation into the previous administration's handling of the death of a South Korean fisheries official killed by North Korea near the western sea border in 2020.

The investigation by the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) came a day after the Coast Guard said that it has not found any circumstances suggesting the official was attempting to defect, backing away from its own previous assumption that he could have intended to defect to North Korea.

The Coast Guard, the Ministry of National Defense and other relevant government offices are subject to the investigation, the BAI said.

"The initial reporting process and procedures will be carefully checked to see if the process was legal and appropriate," it said.

The 47-year-old fisheries official, identified only by his family name Lee, was fatally shot by the North's military on Sept. 22, 2020, after going missing the previous day while on duty near South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.

The South Korean military and the Coast Guard, citing Lee's gambling debt and other intelligence, announced at that time that he appeared to be trying to defect to the North, though the announcement was flatly denied by his bereaved family.

Both the coast guard and the defense ministry apologized for having previously presumed the fisheries official was attempting to voluntarily defect to the North.

Bereaved family's legal response after gov't apology

kdh@yna.co.kr
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