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Seoul expands search for missing official shot by N. Korean amid Pyongyang’s warnings against intrusion into its waters

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FILE PHOTO: A test-firing drill of anti-ship missiles is seen at sea, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 15, 2015. © REUTERS/KCNA
N.Korea says Seoul must stop ‘intrusion’ under pretext of searching for body of slain official, warns of ‘another awful incident’

The North’s state media issued a statement on Sunday, complaining that South Korea’s naval operation had entered its territorial waters in the area, off the west coast of the peninsula. However, Lieutenant Lee Hong-chear of the South Korea Coastguard said the Northern Limit Line had not been crossed. “There have been differences in how the two Koreas mark the waters,” the military official admitted, referring to the disputed maritime demarcation that dates to the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War.

The official who worked for South Korea’s fisheries department was killed by North Korean soldiers, and his body doused in fuel and set on fire near the sea border, the South’s Defense Ministry said last week. The burning of the corpse is believed to have been an anti-coronavirus measure, it added. The incident prompted an unusual move from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who apologized, saying the killing should not have happened.

As of Monday, the inter-Korean military communication line remains inoperative, the South’s defense ministry said. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in called for the North to resume dialogue and reconnect the channel to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. At a meeting with senior aides on Monday, he described the North Korean leader’s apology as “unprecedented, very rare and special.”

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