North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un shocked the world this week by offering a rare apology for the killing of a South Korean official.
BBC reported that Kim told South Korean leader Moon Jae-in that the “disgraceful affair” should not have happened. This came after South Korea announced that the 47-year-old man was found by troops floating in the North’s waters, having been shot dead and his body set on fire.
While the South Korean government has said that the man was trying to defect to the north, his family has denied this claim. This marked the first time that a South Korean citizen was killed by forces in the north in a decade, leading to mass outrage from South Koreans.
Kim sent his apology in the form of a letter, calling what happened a “disgraceful affair” and saying that he felt “very sorry” for “disappointing” Moon and the South Korean people.
South Korea’s director of national security Suh Hoon said that Kim also sent the results of the north’s investigation into the incident, saying that over 10 shots were fired at the man, who had entered North Korean waters and then failed to reveal his identity and tried to flee. However, Kim claimed that the north had not burned the man’s body, but rather the “floating material” that was carrying him.
“The troops could not locate the unidentified trespasser during a search after firing the shots, and burned the device under national emergency disease prevention measures,” Suh told reporters, referring to the claims made by the north.
Kim wrote that he understood “more than anyone the kind of pressure and hardship” required to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and damage from recent typhoons, adding that it was the “heartfelt truth” that he shared the “pain and suffering of the Southern people.”
This incident may prove to be disastrous when it comes to hopes of rekindling talks between the South’s President Moon and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The people of South Korea do not forgive easily, especially when it comes to the north. However, Kim sending the letter indicates that he is at least willing to continue talks with the south, so there may be some hope after all.