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(2nd LD) Yoon to turn down resignation offers from top Coast Guard officials

All News 17:13 June 24, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with presidential office's statement in paras 1-3; CHANGES headline, dateline)

INCHEON/SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol plans to turn down the resignations tendered by top Coast Guard officials to take responsibility for overturning a previous announcement that a fisheries official killed by North Korea in 2020 was attempting to defect to the North, Yoon's office said.

Nine top Coast Guard officials, including Commissioner General Jeong Bong-hun, offered to resign en masse earlier Friday, days after the Coast Guard and the defense ministry announced they had not found any circumstances backing the probe results from two years ago, reversing their previous stance and apologizing to the bereaved family.

"We respect their genuine intentions, but given that a truth-finding process is under way, including an inspection by the Board of Audit and Inspection, the mass resignation offers will be turned down," the presidential office said in a statement.

The 47-year-old official was fatally shot by the North's military on Sept. 22, 2020, near the inter-Korean sea border in the Yellow Sea, after going missing the previous day while on duty aboard a fishery inspection boat. The Coast Guard and the defense ministry announced at the time he could have been attempting to defect to the North.

This photo provided by the Coast Guard shows Coast Guard Commissioner General Jeong Bong-hun (C) offering to resign during a meeting with chief commanders. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The commissioner general expressed his intention to step down during a video conference with top Coast Guard commanders shortly before noon. Earlier this week, Jeong publicly apologized for "causing a lot of misunderstanding in regard to the probe results."

Eight other top Coast Guard officials also offered to step down, including the deputy Coast Guard chief and four top regional Coast Guard commanders.

On Wednesday, the family of the late fisheries official lodged criminal complaints against three of former President Moon Jae-in's secretaries, including former National Security Adviser Suh Hoon, to hold them accountable for the prior probe results two years ago.

The family said it is also considering filing complaints against Moon.


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