October 06, 2020 12:57
The son of a South Korean official who was killed by North Korean soldiers at sea as South Korean forces looked on has expressed his rage in a letter to President Moon Jae-in, who hushed up the murder for two days.
"What was the government doing while my father was brutally killed?" he asked in the handwritten letter. He also demanded to know whether claims from compromised military officers that his father wanted to defect to North Korea make sense.
Lee Rae-jin, the victim's brother, shared the letter with the Chosun Ilbo on Monday. It is dated Oct. 6 because he apparently wanted to release it that day.
The victim's son identifies himself as "the son of the official who was killed and victimized by North Korean soldiers" and "a second-year high school student." He added he also has a sister who is eight years old.
His father, who worked on a fisheries patrol boat, "called us on the phone as usual, and even made a video call to my sister saying that he would come home in a few days."
"When he went missing suddenly, stories that have not been proven appear as hot topics in the media every day," he wrote. "How can someone drag the breadwinner of a family through the mud?"
He furiously denied that his father would have wanted to defect to the oppressive North, saying he "was proud of his job and even came to school and explained it to students." He added his father "never learned to swim professionally." "I want to ask if it really makes sense for a skinny man who weighs only 68 kg at a height of 180 cm to swim deliberately against the tide."
He suggested it was only natural for his father to submit to questioning from his North Korean captors while he was treading water. "Who would not answer to armed North Korean soldiers asking for personal information?" he said. He was referring to government apologists who have cited the fact that North Korea knew the victim's personal information as evidence that he wanted to defect.
"If your children or grandchildren were in my place, would you still behave as you do now?" the son added. "I wonder what attempts the government made while my father was slaughtered and why he couldn't be rescued."
According the South Korean military's own account, it looked on for hours while the man was being questioned in the water before the North Koreans summarily shot him, doused the body in fuel and incinerated it. It did not attempt to communicate with the North Koreans at any point and explained its inaction by the fact that the man was in North Korean waters.
In closing, the victim's son implored Moon, "Please rehabilitate my dishonored father so that my mother, younger sister and I can have normal lives."
Moon and his government sat on the news of the killing for two days until a pre-recorded speech in which the president proposed a peace treaty with North Korea had safely been beamed out to a virtual session of the UN General Assembly.
Both the president and the military have been accused of cowardice and dereliction of duty. In their defense they have since perpetuated the claim that the official had chosen this route to defect.
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