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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apologized Friday for the death of a South Korean official who was killed while seemingly attempting to defect to the North by sea, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's a rare bout of humility from Kim toward his neighbor to the south, and could de-escalate rising tensions between the two nations — at least for the time being.

  • An adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that Kim's message said he was "very sorry" over the "unexpected, unfortunate incident."
  • But Kim said he regretted that South Korea accused the North of "atrocious acts" before asking what had happened during the incident.

The big picture: The incident had caused backlash in South Korea, especially among Moon's political opponents who accused him of covering up details, and risked derailing his attempts to move toward more normalized relations with North Korea.

  • South Korea's defense minister said the official was likely killed because North Korea's anti-coronavirus policies involve "indiscriminate shooting" at those who attempt an illegal border crossing.

Go deeper

Nov 15, 2020 - World

15 Asia-Pacific countries form world's largest trading bloc

Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) is pictured on a TV monitor next to leaders of other country signatories during the signing ceremony for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership at a virtual summit, hosted from Hanoi. Photo: Nhac Nguyen /AFP via Getty Images

China and 14 other countries in the Asia-Pacific region on Sunday formed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Why it matters: The RCEP is the world's biggest free trading bloc, accounting for almost a third of all economic activity.

Chauvin defense closing: "Does not have to prove his innocence"

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson opened his closing argument on Monday by reminding the jury that Derek Chauvin "does not have to prove his innocence."

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial is seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades.

Merrick Garland: Domestic terror is "still with us"

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.