North Korea has said it tried its best to retrieve the body of the South Korean fisheries official who was killed in North Korean waters last month, but to no avail.
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported Friday the principal responsibility for the official's death lies with South Korea due to its failure to exercise control over its citizen crossing the sensitive maritime border.
It added the failure stems from the virus engulfing South Korea and said such an "accidental" incident shouldn't lead to a repetition of unpleasant precedents that could result in a catastrophe for inter-Korean relations.
In response, Seoul's unification ministry reiterated its call for swift efforts for a joint probe into the killing in which Pyeongyang has yet to respond to widely seen as an implicit denial of a joint probe.
"North Korea should make swift efforts in uncovering the truth of the case. The inter-Korean military communication channels should first be restored for communication between the two Koreas."
North Korea is seen as trying to save face from international condemnation and send a warning to South Korea that the incident could be an obstacle in inter-Korean relations if pressed further.
"If reflected as a barbarian country, North Korea's going to further isolate itself from the international community so it's trying to divert responsibility to South Korea."
South and North Korea's accounts regarding the circumstances of the official's death differ.
North Korea claimed that the killing was accidental that the soldiers carried out their duty to guard the border and deal with an "illegal intruder."
The South Korean military had stated that after shooting him, the North had burned and discarded the man's remains.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.