The low-ranking South Korean fisheries official who was shot and burned by North Korea earlier this week after going missing in the Yellow Sea had financial problems, his colleagues said Thursday.
The 47-year-old official, who belongs to the West Sea Fisheries Management Service, an organ under the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, once considered filing for bankruptcy because of debt, they said.
The official, whose identity was withheld, divorced four months ago and had reportedly borrowed money from many of his fellow officials.
He disappeared shortly after noon Monday while on duty aboard an inspection boat in waters off the western border island of Yeonpyeong.
Testimonies of his alleged financial problems came amid speculation that he may have jumped into the sea in a suspected attempt to defect to the North and had drifted into North Korean waters.
According to one of his colleagues, the official's debt had exceeded 20 million won ($17,000) after he borrowed several million won each from a number of fellow officials.
Some of the creditors had even filed for court orders to seize his salary, the colleague said. It was also known that the official may have come under psychological pressure after receiving a notice of salary seizure from the court.
"I was told that he would file for bankruptcy, so I gave up my loan. I had also heard that he borrowed money from private lenders," the colleague said. (Yonhap)