North Korean soldiers are seen at a military fence next to a guard post in the North Korean border county of Kaepoong, as seen…
North Korean soldiers are seen at a military fence next to a guard post in the North Korean border county of Kaepoong, as seen across the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) from the South Korean island of Ganghwa on Sept. 25, 2020.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - North Korea said on Sunday it is searching for the body of a South Korean official killed by its troops but warned that South Korean naval operations in the area threatened to raise tensions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a rare apology on Friday for the fatal shooting of the South Korean fisheries official in North Korean waters.

Seoul then urged Pyongyang to further investigate the fatal shooting and suggested it could be a joint probe by the two sides. South Korea's military has accused the North's soldiers of killing the man, dousing his body in fuel and setting it on fire near the sea border.

North Korean state news agency KCNA said on Sunday that the country's authorities were considering ways to hand over the body to the South if it is found.

The report called it an "awful case which should not have happened" but warned that South Korean naval operations near the site of the incident had crossed into North Korean waters.

"We urge the south side to immediately halt the intrusion across the military demarcation line in the west sea that may lead to escalation of tensions," KCNA said.

A spokesperson for South Korea's Ministry of National Defense had no immediate comment on the North's accusations.

South Korea has mobilized 39 vessels, including 16 naval ships, and six aircraft for the search, which continued Sunday despite the North Korean complaints, South Korean news agency Yonhap said.

North Korea was beginning its own search operation to recover the body, KCNA said.

"We also took more necessary security measures in order to make sure that no more incident spoiling the relations of trust and respect between the north and the south would happen in any case, true to the intention of our Supreme Leadership," the report added, without elaborating.