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.