KIM Jong-un has issued a rare public apology for brutally executing a South Korean official who tried to defect to the North, say reports.
He is said to have told his counterpart over the border – President Moon Jae-in – that the “disgraceful affair” should never have happened.
On Thursday, it was reported the 47-year-old was found by Kim’s troops floating in the North’s territorial waters.
He was then shot dead before his body was torched, according to officials in the South Korean capital of Seoul.
It’s reported Kim has now sent a letter to the Blue House – South Korea’s presidential office – which stated: “I’m sorry to disappoint President Moon and South Koreans.”
He is said to have branded the execution a “disgraceful affair”.
The North also gave its account of what it claims led up to the outrageous killing, according to South Korea’s director of national security Suh Hoon.
He claims the rogue state said more than 10 shots were fired at the man after he failed to reveal his identity.
However, the North insisted although it did burn the “floating material” carrying the man it did not torch his body.
“The troops could not locate the unidentified trespasser during a search after firing the shots, and burned the device under national emergency disease prevention measures,” said Mr Suh, referring to the North’s account.
The unnamed fisheries official was said to be attempting to defect when he was reported missing from a boat about six miles south of the sea border on Monday.
The father-of-two left behind his shoes and took a life jacket before diving into the water near the island of Yeonpyeong.
He was found exhausted and clutching a flotation device by a North Korean vessel.
The man was taken aboard and then interrogated before being shot dead, according to “diverse intelligence” gathered by spies.
South Korea’s military intelligence claimed soldiers wearing gas masks then poured oil over his body and set it alight.
It was said the unidentified official appeared to have been executed on an “order from a superior authority”.
Kim’s troops are believed to have been given “shoot-to-kill orders” to prevent coronavirus entering the country.
It comes after a man who crossed the border from the South triggered a virus scare which ended up with the North Korean city of Kaesong left in lockdown in July.
South Korea earlier condemned the violent killing as a “brutal act” and urged the North to “provide an explanation and punish those responsible”.
General Ahn Young-ho, head of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: “Our military strongly condemns such an atrocity, and strongly demands North Korea provide explanations and punish those who are responsible.”
Kim’s latest brutal execution allegedly comes after five North Korea officials were killed after they criticised Kim Jong-un for leaving the country’s finances in tatters.
North Korea is known for its brutal crushing of dissent and never hesitates to take action against critics who may undermine the dictator.
There have been reports this year that suspected coronavirus patients have been executed for not obeying isolation rules.
Defectors have told stories of other brutal executions, including 11 musicians being blown apart by anti-aircraft guns.