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State Audit of Fisheries Official’s 2020 Death Calls for Disciplinary Action

Written: 2023-12-07 15:24:29Updated: 2023-12-08 08:23:22

State Audit of Fisheries Official’s 2020 Death Calls for Disciplinary Action

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: The state audit agency wrapped up its investigation of top officials who handled the death of a fisheries official who was shot by North Korean soldiers in 2020. The findings incriminated a range of high ranking administrators and government offices for covering up the death and falsifying related information, including assertions that the killing came during an attempted defection.
Tom McCarthy has the details of the audit. 

Report: The state audit agency has called for disciplinary action against 13 public officials for their roles in the aftermath of the death of a fisheries official who was killed by North Korean soldiers in 2020.

The Board of Audit and Inspection(BAI) has concluded its investigation into the events following the death of Lee Dae-jun while on duty in waters near the inter-Korean maritime border on September 22, 2020 when he was shot by North Korean soldiers, who then burnt his body.

After the discovery of his remains, the defense ministry and Coast Guard under the Moon Jae-in administration announced that it was determined that Lee had been killed while attempting to defect to the North over financial and personal issues. 

Following the announcement, speculation of a top-level cover-up arose involving the defense ministry, Coast Guard and National Security Office purporting that they ordered the deletion and omission of factual intelligence regarding Lee and fabricated reports supporting the government’s claim.

About a month after the launch of Yoon Suk Yeol’s presidency, the Coast Guard retracted its claim about Lee, while the BAI immediately announced that it would investigate the handling of the case by relevant agencies.

Concluding its probe on Thursday, the state auditor recommended disciplinary action and warnings be issued for 13 officials at the time, including former defense minister Suh Wook and former Coast Guard commissioner general Kim Hong-hee.

The watchdog also assessed that warnings are warranted for the National Security Office, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Navy for failing to take necessary pan-government measures as stipulated in crisis regulations and manuals.

Former Defense Minister Suh Wook is currently on trial for tampering with and manipulating documents involved in the case following a BAI interim recommendation in October, but former National Security Advisor Suh Hoon and former National Intelligence Service Chief Park Jie-won, who are also standing trial on the same charges, were not included on the latest list.

The BAI determined that several defense ministry officials deserve a warning for releasing a report based on false information, while five incumbent Coast Guard officials were marked for disciplinary action for releasing personal information about Lee based on concealed or false information.

The agency also recommended that the 13 figures for whom disciplinary action or a warnings deserved should also receive a flag in the personnel records over the incident as a demerit in future consideration for employment in public offices.
Tom McCarthy, KBS World Radio News.

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