SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Coast Guard said on Tuesday that a South Korean fisheries officer who went missing at sea by North Korean troops last week had expressed a desire to report shortages.
The officer’s death sparked controversy after his older brother denied the government’s initial claim that he may have tried to flee to the north.
The Coast Guard said it made the decision after an investigation based on CCTV footage, military intelligence and background recordings.
Read: Seoul says North Korea ‘very sorry’ for killing South Korean official at sea
“We have confirmed that the North has protected his personal information that only he knows, including his name, age, hometown and height, and that the missing person has expressed a desire to move north,” said Eun Chung-hyun, head of the Coast Guard’s investigation and intelligence.
When he was found 38km from where he went missing, Yoon said the chances of him losing his legs or trying to take his own life were “very low” because he was wearing a life jacket and a floating device.
The man’s brother, Lee Ray-jin, said he had got a new boat so it must have been an accident and there was no reason for the defect.
Yoon said the officer owed more than $ 58 million ($ 49,600), but it is not yet clear if he tried to flee because of it.
Read: South Korea calls on North Korea to investigate South Korean officer shot dead
In an effort to prevent the risk of a novel coronavirus outbreak, the Coast Guard and Navy have searched for the body of a man who contained dozens of ships, following Pyongyang’s claim that soldiers only burned a floating device he used.
South Korea has called for a joint investigation into allegations that it poured fuel on its body and set it on fire after killing the man.
Pyongyang has been silent on the joint investigation until Tuesday, but President Kim Jong Un has apologized. State media reported that the North was conducting its own search for the human body, but warned that the intrusion into its waters in the South would increase tensions.