N.Korea regrets killing S.Korean to control coronavirus

Intelligence official says Kim's sister is now North Korea's number two figure

"Comrade Kim Jong Un, the State Affairs Commission chairman, feels very sorry to give big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and South Korean citizens because an unexpected, unfortunate incident happened" at a time when South Korea grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Moon adviser Suh Hoon cited the North Korean message as saying.

President Moon Jae-in was briefed on four occasions between Tuesday and Thursday on developments concerning the South Korean civil servant killed by the North Korean military, Cheong Wa Dae said.

North Korean soldiers keep watch toward the south as South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young inspects (not pictured) the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, Sept. 16, 2020.

Suh was reading out a letter from the department of the North's ruling party responsible for relations with the South.

Border guards fired at him in accordance with standing instructions, it said.

North Korean defector turned Seoul-based researcher Ahn Chan-il said it was "extremely rare for the North's supreme commander to offer an apology, especially to South Koreans and their President".

It was a "diplomatic move" which "avoids a potential fight in the short-term and preserves the option of reaping longer-term benefits from Seoul", he said.

In an editorial Friday, the Korea JoongAng Daily said it was "enraged at the North's abominable act".

Approaching the material, the North's troops shot two blanks, and he was seen as attempting to flee.

It was not clear how the man, who had been wearing a life jacket and was clutching a floating object, ended up in North Korean waters, Seoul's defense officials said.

Kim said he is well aware of Moon's "difficulty, pressure and efforts" to overcome the troubles, hoping for the "health and happiness" of South Koreans.

Pyongyang has closed its borders and declared an emergency to try to protect itself against the virus, which has swept the world since first emerging in neighbouring China.

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