The 47-year-old man vanished from a boat on Monday that was carrying 18 other South Korean officials who were investigating potential illegal fishing near the water border between the two rival nations, the Associated Press reported.
North Korean sailors then approached him from a boat and shot him to death, according to the statement, which cited surveillance intelligence.
The sailors put on gas masks and other protective equipment, then doused the man’s body with gasoline and set him on fire, according to the report.
Lt. Gen. Ahn Young Ho, a top official at the South Korean military’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. (Associated Press)
The official added that little is known about the man, but they believe he may have tried to defect to the totalitarian state.
North Korea has claimed it hasn’t had a single coronavirus case since the pandemic began.