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Slain S. Korean official sought defection to North: Coast Guard

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The Korea Coast Guard said Friday the South Korean fisheries official shot to death by the North Korean military at sea last week was trying to defect to the North.

The Coast Guard reached the conclusion based on the intelligence retrieved from the military, the analysis of the tidal current on the day of the incident and other circumstantial evidence.

"The official was wearing a life jacket and hanging onto a floating object when he was spotted by the North," said Yoon Seong-hyun, chief of the investigation team, during a briefing to announce its midway investigation results.

"Also North Korea knew the official's personal details, such as his name, age, hometown and height."

The team also analyzed the direction of the tidal current on Sept. 21 when he went missing and concluded that he couldn't have reached where he was found unless he swam to get there.

Yoon said an accident or a suicide was considered very unlikely, although the investigation team did not rule out such scenarios.

The team concluded that a pair of slippers found on the deck of the government ship monitoring fishing boats belonged to the 47-year-old official, which were sent to the National Forensic Service for more analysis.

Yoon said the team also analyzed the ship's closed circuit TV footage, 731 clips in total, but could not find any important information about the man.

"Based on the investigation so far, we believe that he intended to defect to the North," Yoon said, adding that he "knew the waters around Yeonpyeong Island well," an island in the front-line areas near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a de facto inter-Korean sea border, where the official went missing. (Yonhap)
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