South Korea official shot dead by North Korean troops

North Korean soldiers keep watch toward the south as South Korean Unification Minister Lee In-young inspects the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas South Korea

South Korea sent a message to North Korea via a communication channel at the U.S. -led U.N. Command in South Korea on Wednesday to ask about the missing official.

"North Korea found the man in its waters and committed an act of brutality by shooting at him and burning his body, according to our military's thorough analysis of diverse intelligence", the defense ministry said in a statement.

The South Korean official in question, who worked for the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries' West Sea Fisheries Management Service, disappeared Monday from a monitoring boat with several colleagues around 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) off the coast of Small Yeonpyeong Island.

But those meetings ultimately did not deliver significant results for all sides, and North Korea has taken an increasingly strident tone towards its southern neighbor, a shift in stance that has come as Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, moved into a more influential position in the North Korean regime.

Later in the evening, North Korean soldiers shot the man following an "order from a superior", and poured oil over the dead body to set it aflame.

The citizen appears to have expressed his desire to defect to the North, according to a JCS official.

"Our military strongly condemns such a brutal act and strongly urges the North to provide an explanation and punish those responsible", the statement read.

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The president also indicated that Allison Jones Rushing, a 38-year-old appellate judge from North Carolina, is on his short list. Soon after issuing condolences, Trump and other GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen.

The man was wearing a lifejacket and his shoes had been found on board the South Korean boat, the official said - indicators pointing to him entering the water voluntarily.

"We assess it was carried out under the North's anti-coronavirus measure", he added.

Pyongyang closed its border with China in January to try to prevent contamination, and in July state media said it had raised its state of emergency to the maximum level.

The commander of the United States military's forces in South Korea, Robert Abrams, said in an interview last month that the North had introduced a new "buffer zone" of one to two kilometres on the Chinese border.

The defence ministry also warned the DPRK that "all responsibilities for this incident lie with it".

But it was not clear how exactly they had gathered the information.

It is the second time North Korea has reportedly killed a civilian from the South. The South Korean military's surveillance equipment set up on the island detected the flames at around 10:11 p.m. Tuesday. A tourist from the South was shot by a soldier at Mount Kumgang in July 2008.

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