Translated by Jeune Kim, HRNK Research Intern
Edited by Rosa Park, HRNK Director of Programs and Editor
September 28, 2020
Our colleague, Jeune Kim, has provided an excellent and timely translation indicating that the non-Korean-speaking public may misinterpret this letter as an actual apology. The killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korea was not a “minor error.” A Republic of Korea government official, helplessly floating in the water, was interrogated for hours. He was shot dead. A combustible liquid was poured onto him and his body was set on fire. Regardless of the reasons why the victim was there, that was an atrocity. Moreover, “regret to have greatly disappointed President Moon Jae-in” and the people of South Korea does not qualify as an apology. What about the family of a man gruesomely killed by agents of the Kim regime just ten days ahead of the Chuseok holiday? We are once again reminded of the crimes committed against countless North Koreans as well as South Koreans and citizens of other countries. This is yet another stark reminder of the need for a worldwide effort to ensure accountability for the crimes of the Kim regime.
북측 통지문 관련 서훈 국가안보실장 브리핑 2020-09-25
Director of National Security Office Suh Hoon’s Briefing on Letter from the North
As your side has reported, on the night of the 22nd in the waters off the coast of Geumdong-ri, Kangnyong County, South Hwanghae Province, there was an alleged shooting committed by our soldiers that occurred when an unidentified individual illegally entered deep into our territorial waters.
Upon investigating the details of this event, the military unit responsible for guarding those waters had been alerted by our fishery vessel that had been fishing that they had discovered an unidentified male individual. It then took action and approached the individual, who had illegally entered our waters on a flotation device, from a distance of 80 meters and tried to establish his identity. At first, he said “Republic of Korea” and such and such one or two times, being unclear, and continued to not give an answer.
It is said that because he continued to be silent and resist the orders of our soldiers, they moved closer and fired two shots. Surprised, the unidentified individual then ducked down, and this created a situation where it seemed that he would try to run away. According to the statements of our soldiers, they said that they saw him make movements that seemed as if he was bending down and trying to put something on his body.
Our soldiers, on official orders and following policies approved by the regulations of the Coastal Security Bureau, fired about 10 bullets toward the illegal trespasser, and they said the distance at the time was 40-50 meters.
After shooting, there was no sound or movement, so they moved closer to a distance of about 10 meters and carried out a verification search. However, it was reported that the unidentified trespasser was no longer on the flotation device and they found a large amount of blood. Our soldiers concluded that the illegal trespasser had been killed, and, in accordance with national emergency preventive measures against epidemics, set fire to the trespasser’s flotation device at the scene.
The results of the investigation on the details of this event that have been reported to our leadership at present are as stated above.
We cannot refrain from expressing the deep regret that your military, without evidence and without requesting from us an explanation for the interception of the illegal trespasser and proceedings of the interception, chose to use disrespectful and deeply confrontational expressions such as “atrocity,” “pay the price,” and the like that are one-sided speculations.
Our leadership assesses that this incident should not have happened, and, in order that another unfortunate accident like this will not happen again, will reinforce the surveillance and services on our naval borders. The leadership has ordered the establishment of a system that would include the whole process of handling an interception on the seas so that, from now on, there will be no more minor errors or another event that may cause gross misunderstanding during an interception.
We express to you our regret that this event, which will certainly be unpleasant for North-South relations, occurred in our waters. Our leadership is ever more alert and aware that what little relationship of trust and respect that has been built between North and South does not break down due to an unfortunate event like this one and has repeatedly emphasized the establishment of necessary safety measures.
Chairman of State Affairs, comrade Kim Jong-un has told us to convey that he thinks it is very regrettable to have greatly disappointed President Moon Jae-in and our southern compatriots because of the unanticipated and unfortunate event that occurred in our waters, rather than helping our southern compatriots who are struggling from the threat of the malicious virus.
We ask for your accurate understanding of the incident that has occurred.
Central Committee of the Korean Workers' Party, United Front Department
2020 September 25
Jeune Kim is a second-year student pursuing an M.A. in Global Policy Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. Her specialization is in Security, Law, and Diplomacy.
HRNK staff members and interns wish to dedicate this program to our colleagues Katty Chi and Miran Song.