Kim Jong Un statement ‘not an apology.’ U.N. investigator says

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Sept. 30 (UPI) — The U.N. investigator on North Korea human rights condemned Pyongyang for the slaying of a South Korean citizen last week.

Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana also told Voice of America’s Korean service Kim Jong Un‘s alleged statement is not an apology, a claim South Korea made last week.

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“Kim Jong Un expressed regret for the incident, which is an important gesture,” Quintana said.

“But it wasn’t an apology because actually he also declared that the guards didn’t infringe instructions and regulations when shooting the individual.”

The U.N. official also said North Korea violated international human rights laws by shooting and possibly burning the 47-year-old South Korean fisheries ministry officer.

Seoul has said it is likely the man swam across the disputed maritime border in the West Sea, or Yellow Sea, suggesting he defected in violation of South Korean security law, and that the South faced limited options. The man’s brother Lee Rae-jin has dismissed the claims, and has said his sibling was being framed.

On Tuesday, Quintana told VOA any intention of the South Korean to switch allegiances is irrelevant to the case. The lawful course of action for North Korea would be to rescue and test the man for COVID-19, regardless of his intentions.

North Korea must disclose all information to the family of the South Korean victim, and the South Korean government should demand the North exercise transparency, Quintana said.

Quintana’s statement came the same day the North Korean ambassador to the U.N. credited Kim for fending off the coronavirus pandemic. Kim did not address the recent killing, and said the North Korean leader’s “extraordinary wisdom and strong determination” enabled the country of 25 million to take “pre-emptive measures” to “prevent the inflow and spread of the pandemic.”

North Korea is also launching a propaganda campaign against the South’s military.

Propaganda service Uriminzokkiri said Wednesday newly appointed Defense Minister Suh Wook and new chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Won In-choul are inviting confrontation, after Won said past North Korea-related incidents at sea were “deliberate military provocations.”