Observers say Pyeongyang's quick, rare apology shows destroying communication between the two Koreas is something the North wants to avoid.
"South Korean citizens are really upset about the incident, which may destroy Seoul's dialogue efforts between the two Koreas. The apology is neither hot nor cold. The North doesn't want a complete disconnection between the two."
This is not the first time the regime has expressed swift regret over killing a South Korean civilian.
Just a day after killing a tourist at the Mount Kumgang resort in 2008, North Korea made an announcement, admitting its action.
But experts point out that the gravity of the apology is different this time.
"Back in 2008, the North's apology was by the organization in charge of tourism, but this time, the regime itself, including the leader Kim Jong-un sent a message. Kim apologized on this rare occasion to keep the safety on the Korean peninsula."
The expert added that the North is seeking to remain in a stable, unprovocative status especially ahead of the November U.S. presidential election.
Plus, Kim wants to keep his image as a normal leaderof a normal country.
"North Korean leader Kim Jong-un knows that if this situation lasts any longer, it will not help him in any way and defeats his efforts to build his image as a normal leader."
However, analysts note it's too early say whether the North's surprise apology will revive dialogue between Seoul and Pyeongyang in the long term.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.