North Korea is warning its southern neighbor of inflaming inter-Korean naval tensions during the two sides’ separate search for the body of a South Korean fisheries official reportedly killed by North Korean soldiers in their country’s territorial waters, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, in a press release on Sunday.
The North Korean state news agency pointed out in its release that Pyongyang has investigated what it described as an “awful case which should not have happened” and provided Seoul with a detailed account on Friday.
“We also took more necessary security measures in order to make sure that no more incident spoiling the relations of trust and respect between the north and the south would happen in any case, true to the intention of our Supreme Leadership,” the KCNA release read. “We are about to organize a search operation in the southwestern waters and the western seashore. We even consider the procedures and ways of handing over any tide-brought corpse to the south side conventionally in case we find it during the operation.”
The agency added that Seoul has “mobilized many vessels including warships” to conduct search operations for the missing body of the killed official, noting that South Korean forces were allowed by the western fleet of the DPRK navy “to intrude” into the country’s territorial waters since Friday. The KCNA warned that such violations “may lead to another awful incident”.
“We don't care whether the south side conducts any kind of search operation in its territorial waters or not. But we can never overlook any intrusion into our territorial waters and we seriously warn the south side against it,” the agency said. “We urge the south side to immediately halt the intrusion across the military demarcation line in the west sea that may lead to escalation of tensions”.
On 24 September, South Korea’s Defence Ministry accused the North Korean military of killing and burning the body of a South Korean official from the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. President Moon Jae-in condemned Pyongyang for what he characterized as a “shocking” and “unpardonable” incident, calling on the DPRK to “provide an explanation and punish those responsible”, according to Yonhap.
On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apologised for the incident, which he described as “unfortunate”, saying that he was “greatly sorry” and promising to take measures to prevent such tragedies from happening again, according to the South Korean state-run news agency.
Yonhap also reported on Friday that South Korea has called for its “readiness posture” to be “strengthened... regarding the current situation” following the fatal shooting to the South Korean national by the north’s army.