A South Korean naval ship engages in a search of waters off the coast of Incheon on Oct. 19, 2020. (Photo: Yonhap News)
North Korea has placed blame for its killing last month of a South Korean fisheries official on Seoul's "improper control of the citizen."
The state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday the incident, which occurred when troops shot the official after he drifted into North Korean waters, "was the result of improper control of the citizen by the south side in the sensitive hotspot," particularly during tensions over the coronavirus pandemic.
It said, "Since then we have tried our best to retrieve the dead body from the waters of the West Sea and return it to his family, but to no avail, to our regret."
Pyongyang has previously acknowledged that around 10 rounds were fired at the man, and that he was not visible after the shooting.
The killing prompted fury in Seoul and a rare apology from leader Kim Jong-un who said through his national security adviser that he was "very sorry" for the "unexpected and disgraceful event."
The KNCA message added, "We do not want to see the repetition of any unpleasant precedents in which accidental incidents led the north-south relations to a catastrophe."
Then it went on to criticize "conservative forces" in the South for slandering the North and raising the issue of human rights following the incident, insulting their "good faith" and "maximizing distrust."
The message comes as inter-Korean ties remain frayed while nuclear negotiations between North Korea and the United States are at a standstill.
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