SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea said on Sunday it was looking for the body of the South Korean official killed by its troops, but warned that South Korean naval operations in the area threaten to escalate tensions.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un released a rare apology Friday for the fatal killing of the South Korean fisheries official in North Korean waters.
Seoul then urged Pyongyang to further investigate the fatal shooting and suggested it could be a joint investigation by the two sides. The South Korean army accused the soldiers of the North of killing the man, soaking his body with fuel and setting him on fire near the sea border.
North Korean state news agency KCNA said Sunday that the country’s authorities are considering handing over the body to the south if found.
The report called it a “horrific case that shouldn’t have happened,” but warned that South Korean naval operations near the crash site had entered North Korean waters.
“We call on the south side to immediately stop the intrusion across the military demarcation line into the Western Sea which could lead to escalating tensions,” KCNA said.
A spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense did not have immediate comments on the North’s allegations.
South Korea mobilized 39 ships, including 16 military ships and six research aircraft, which continued on Sunday despite North Korean complaints, South Korean news agency Yonhap said.
North Korea was starting its own search operation to recover the body, KCNA said.
“We have also taken the most necessary security measures to ensure that no more incidents occur that ruin the relationships of trust and respect between the North and the South, true to the intention of our supreme leadership,” the report adds, without elaborating.