SEOUL, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea shot a missing South Korean official to death and burned his body earlier this week, the defense ministry confirmed Thursday, condemning its "brutality" and calling for explanations and punishment for those responsible.
The 47-year-old official affiliated with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries disappeared from the 500-ton boat before noon Monday while on duty aboard an inspection boat in waters off the western border island of Yeonpyeong.
"North Korea found the man in its waters and committed an act of brutality by shooting at him and burning his body, according to our military's thorough analysis of diverse intelligence," the defense ministry said in a statement.
"Our military strongly condemns such a brutal act and strongly urges the North to provide an explanation and punish those responsible," the statement read. "We also sternly warn North Korea that all responsibilities for this incident lie with it."
It is the first time since July 2008 that a South Korean civilian has been shot dead in North Korea. At that time, Park Wang-ja was shot and killed at the North's mountain resort of Kumgang while wandering into a restricted zone.