“The incident was caused by South Korea’s poor management and control of its citizens near the sensitive Northern Limit Line,” North Korea said through a report by the Korean Central News Agency on Friday regarding its killing of a South Korean citizen in the Yellow Sea, shifting the primary responsibility to South Korea. “The South is engaging in dangerous activities to use the incident to stir up the anti-North Korea sentiment internationally,” it added. The country is shifting blame to South Korea 35 days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apologized for the incident and is strongly complaining about the incident becoming public in the international community, including the U.N. General Assembly.
Such audacity of North Korea, which committed a crime against humanity and still blames the victim’s country, has been practically brought on by the South Korean government’s submissive attitude of not holding the North to account ever since the incident took place. “We once again realized that peace and cooperation near the inter-Korean border is the starting point for peaceful co-existence on the Korean Peninsula,” Minister of Unification Lee In-young even said at a forum held after North Korea’s report on Friday.
North Korea went even further from its previous stance of denying damaging the body by claiming that the South Korean military has already discovered what really happened. This is the North’s attempt to negate damaging the body on the excuse of the South Korean military taking its initial announcement back by saying that it was a mistake and that it is not clear.
While making these unreasonable claims, North Korea was also very sensitive with regards to the incident being discussed as a human rights issue in the international community, including the U.N., by making a threat that it may bring worse outcomes. Such an attitude shows how uncomfortable the North feels about the discussion of a human rights issue. If the Moon Jae-in administration remains passive about bringing up the incident as an international human rights issue with a concern about making the North uncomfortable, it won’t be able to avoid the criticism for failure to uphold international norms of human rights and justice.