|In this Feb. 28, 2019, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un answers a question from reporters during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi. North Korea has stayed mum on its brutal killing of a South Korean government official. AP|
North Korea stayed mum on its brutal killing of a South Korean fisheries official drifting near the western inter-Korean sea border, a day after Seoul demanded the North apologize amid mounting public anger.
On Thursday, South Korea's defense ministry confirmed that North Korean soldiers fatally shot the 47-year-old South Korean official drifting in their waters and burned his body in waters near the Yellow Sea border between the two sides.
The revelations sparked strong public outrage. President Moon Jae-in called the killing a "shocking incident that cannot be tolerated for any reason." His office demanded the North apologize and punish those responsible.
As of Friday morning, however, North Korean state media, including the Rodong Sinmun and the Korean Central News Agency, have stayed silent with regard to the incident.
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling party, ran several reports on the country's nationwide efforts aimed at warding off an outbreak of COVID-19 but did not make any mention of the killing.
"Preventing infectious diseases is the frontline for safeguarding our people and our fatherland," the paper said. "All workers should do their best and strengthen our antivirus walls like iron."
It is not clear whether North Korea will make any response this time given that inter-Korean relations remain stalled since the no-deal summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump early last year.
The relations chilled further recently after the North blew up a joint liaison office in its border town of Kaesong and cut off cross-border communication in protest of the sending of anti-Pyongyang leaflets by activists in the South.
This is the first time that a South Korean citizen has been killed by North Korea since a female tourist was shot dead by a North Korean guard in 2008 as she strayed into a restricted zone at the Mount Kumgang resort on the North's east coast.
North Korea was relatively quick in responding to the 2008 killing. It issued a statement a day after the incident and expressed regrets over her death, though Pyongyang hasn't made any apology. (Yonhap)