July 12, 2008

South Korean President Orders “Swift” Probe into Tourist’s Shooting Death

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

[Yonhap headline: "President Lee Expresses Regret Over Mount Kumgang Shooting"]

SEOUL, July 12 (Yonhap) - President Lee Myung-bak expressed regret over the death of a South Korean tourist shot the previous day at North Korea's Mount Kumgang and called for a swift investigation, Seoul's presidential office said Saturday.

Park Wang-ja, a 53-year-old housewife, was shot dead by a North Korean soldier in the pre-dawn hours of Friday morning after crossing into a restricted North Korean zone while strolling on a beach near the resort.

North Korea claimed the woman broke through an iron fence and entered the off-limits zone. She tried to run away despite repeated orders to halt and warning shots, according to Hyundai Asan, which operates the tour programme jointly with the North. The tour programme has been suspended.

"It is incomprehensible that (the North Korean soldier) shot and killed a civilian tourist incapable of resistance during the time when (he) could recognize (objects) with his naked eyes," President Lee was quoted as saying in an emergency meeting with related ministers.

"Swift action should be taken to investigate the incident, and follow-up measures should also be drawn up," he said, calling for the North to cooperate in the investigation.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0721 12 Jul 08.

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