President Moon Jae-in has offered words of condolence to the family of the South Korean government worker shot dead last week by North Korean troops.
In a meeting with his top aides on Monday, Moon said that the government is sorry for the shock and anger caused to the South Korean people, calling it a regrettable and unfortunate incident.
These were the president's first public remarks about the case.
I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family members of the deceased regardless of how he ended up in North Korean waters. Whatever the reason, the government, which is responsible for protecting people's lives and safety, is deeply sorry about the incident.
Moon stressed the need to uncover the full truth and to find substantive ways to stop this from happening again.
That said, he highlighted the need for communication between the two Koreas, calling on Pyeongyang to reopen the inter-Korean military communication line it severed earlier this year.
The president also noted the apology given by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying that it's unprecedented and very unusual for the supreme leader of the regime to have apologized immediately and directly.
It shows that Chairman Kim Jong-un is also taking the case seriously, and it reflects his desire that inter-Korean relations do not head toward a breakdown.
The South Korean official went missing from a patrol boat last Monday while on duty near Yeonpyeong-do Island off the country's west coast.
South Korea's military said later that North Korean troops had shot the man and then burned his body while Pyeongyang claims its troops set fire not to his body but to a floating object the man had been using.
Moon expressed hope that the tragic incident will serve as an opportunity for the two Koreas to resume dialogue and cooperation which in turn will lead to a development in inter-Korean relations.
But, North Korea has yet to respond to South Korea's call for a joint probe.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.