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Power to the people: electric bikes take off in North Korea
7 May 2016 - On the lightly trafficked streets of Pyongyang, capital of impoverished and isolated North Korea, electric bicycles are the hottest new ride on the road. Almost unseen two years ago, the Chinese-made two-wheelers are a common site this week in the city. While pedal-powered bikes still predominate on Pyongyang's wide avenues, the electric bike trend began in the last year, locals and foreign residents of the North Korean capital said. (more)

2 Koreas agree to hold high-level talks next month
26 November 2015 - North and South Korea have agreed to hold high-level talks next month to discuss ways to improve ties, Seoul officials said Friday, a sign that the rivals are following through with promised reconciliation efforts after a military standoff in August. (more)

North, South Korea plan further talks to improve ties after standoff
26 November 2015 - North and South Korea agreed to hold talks at the vice-minister level next month, after a meeting on Thursday aimed at further easing tensions following the end to an armed standoff in August. Officials agreed to vice-minister-level talks on 11 December at the industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong just a few kilometers on the northern side of the border run jointly by the two Koreas, a joint press statement said. (more)

Koreas meet to talk about preparations for family reunions
7 September 2015 - North and South Korea started talks at a border village Monday on resuming the reunions of families separated by the Korean War in the early 1950s, Seoul (South Korea) officials said. The highly emotional reunions have not happened since early last year. Most applicants are in their 70s or older and are desperate to see their loved ones before they die. (more)

In North Korea, solar panel boom gives power to the people
22 April 2015 - In a country notorious for a lack of electricity, many North Koreans are taking power into their hands by installing cheap household solar panels to charge mobile phones and light up their homes. (more)

Moscow: North Korean leader 'positive' about Moscow invite
21 January 2015 - Russia's foreign minister says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has given a positive response to the Kremlin's invitation to visit Russia. (more)

North Korea hints at nuclear test moratorium
10 January 2015 - North Korea has told the United States that it's willing to impose a temporary moratorium on its nuclear tests if Washington scraps planned military drills with South Korea this year, the North's official news agency said Saturday. The US has previously refused to cancel military drills with South Korea, even at times of high tensions, and has said the North must first demonstrate how sincere it is about nuclear disarmament before serious talks can resume. (more)

North Korean leader proposes historic 'highest-level' talks with South Korea
1 January 2015 - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has proposed 'highest-level' talks with South Korea, opening the way to a historic summit as his country battles to fend off UN prosecution over its human rights record. The sudden move, made during Kim's traditional New Year message, would clear the path for the first inter-Korean leaders' meeting since a 2007 summit in Pyongyang. (more)

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un says open to summit with South
31 December 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he was open to a high-level summit with neighbouring South Korea, days after a proposal from Seoul to resume dialogue. South Korea proposed on Monday to resume stalled inter-Korean talks with North Korea in January to cover issues including reunions for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. (more)

North Korean leader open to summit with South
31 December 2014 - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in a nationally televised New Year's Day speech, says he is open to a summit with his South Korean counterpart. (South Korea on Monday proposed talks with North Korea.) (more)


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North Koreans: Brutal work abroad better than life back home
12 April 2016 - One North Korean who worked abroad says that as a waitress in China, she was forced to put up with male customers who groped her and tried to get her drunk. Two others recall the frozen bodies of their countrymen stored in Russian logging camps. Another says he toiled for up to 16 hours a day at a Kuwaiti construction site surrounded by wire fences. As difficult as those lives were, the four workers told The Associated Press, it beat staying in the North. North Korea has sent tens of thousands of workers abroad with a mission to bring in foreign currency. Human-rights organizations have called those workers modern-day slaves, while also decrying human-rights abuses North Koreans face back home. To the workers themselves, there is little debate about which plight is more favorable. The average monthly wage for ordinary North Korean workers is less than $1, according to defectors. (more)

North Korea orders military takeover of inter-Korean factories
11 February 2016 - North Korea on Thursday ordered a military takeover of a factory park that had been the last major symbol of cooperation with South Korea, calling Seoul's earlier suspension of operations at the jointly run facility as punishment for the North's recent rocket launch a 'dangerous declaration of war.' North Korea said it was responding to Seoul's shutdown order by immediately deporting the hundreds of South Koreans who work at the complex just across the world's most heavily armed border in the city of Kaesong, pulling out the tens of thousands of North Korean employees and freezing all South Korean assets. The North also said it was shutting down two crucial cross-border communication hotlines. (more)

North Korea warns it has restarted all nuclear bomb fuel plants
15 September 2015 - With a big anniversary drawing near, North Korea declared Tuesday (15 September) it has upgraded and restarted all of its atomic fuel plants -- meaning it could possibly make more, and more sophisticated, nuclear weapons. North Korea has spent decades trying to develop operational nuclear weapons. It has conducted three nuclear tests and a series of steadily improving long-range rocket launches, and some analysts see the announcements as foreshadowing another launch ahead of the anniversary celebration or a fourth nuclear test, which would push North Korea further along in its nuclear aims. (more)

AP Exclusive: North Korean farmers face dry fields, drought
3 July 2015 - North Korean farmers work to pump underground water into parched fields. Instead of rice seedlings standing in flooded paddies, the baked earth is cracked. A big lake that used to supply surrounding farmland with water is almost completely dry. There has been almost no rain in this part of the country, an hour's drive from the capital Pyongyang and one of the country's main rice-growing regions, according to farmers and local officials interviewed by The Associated Press. While the situation in this area visited by the AP looks grim, it is unclear how severe the drought is in the rest of the country. North Korea severely limits outside access, so state media's recent claim of the worse drought in a century has faced widespread skepticism. North Korea's food production is regularly affected by droughts or floods that expose the inefficiencies of its agricultural system, which is heavily reliant on foreign aid, artificial irrigation and terraced fields that are vulnerable to torrential rain. (more)

Blacklist warnings spread on websites in North Korea
2 July 2015 - North Korea, already one of the least-wired places in the world, appears to be cracking down on the use of the Internet by even the small number of foreigners who can access it with relative freedom by blacklisting and blocking social media accounts or websites deemed to carry harmful content. The move won't be noticed by most in the North since hardly anyone has access to the Internet. But it could signal increasing concern in Pyongyang over the flow of real-time photos, tweets and status updates getting out to the world and an attempt to further limit what the few North Koreans able to view the Internet can see. (more)

North Korean defector lifts lid on world's most secret state
2 July 2015 - As a schoolgirl in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was forced to watch executions, denounce her friends for fabricated transgressions, and dig tunnels in case of a nuclear attack. It wasn't until she left North Korea at the age of 17 that she began to discover the full horror of the government that had fed her propaganda since birth. (more)

North Korea says hit by worst drought in 100 years
16 June 2015 - Reclusive North Korea said on Tuesday it has been hit by the worst drought in a century, compounding chronic food shortages in a country where the United Nations says almost one third of children under five are stunted due to malnourishment. (more)

North Korea uses racial slur against President Obama over hack
27 December 2014 - North Korea blamed its recent Internet outage on the United States on Saturday and hurled racially charged insults at President Barack Obama over the hacking row involving the movie 'The Interview'. North Korea has denied involvement in a crippling cyberattack on Sony Pictures but has expressed fury over the comedy. Sony Pictures initially called off the release citing threats of terror attacks against US movie theaters. Obama criticized Sony's decision, and the movie opened this past week. It wasn't the first time North Korea has used crude insults against Obama and other top US and South Korean officials. Earlier this year, the North called US Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a 'hideous' lantern jaw and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute. In May, the North's news agency published a dispatch saying Obama has the 'shape of a monkey'. (more)

North Korea launches missiles in latest test-fire
13 July 2014 - North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea on Sunday, South Korea said, the latest in a series of test-firings seen as expressions of anger over the North's failure to win talks on receiving outside aid, and over US-South Korean military drills. The missiles, believed to be of Scud variations, were fired from the North Korean city of Kaesong near the border with the South and had a range of about 500 kilometers (311 miles), said a South Korean military official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules. North Korea experts said it was highly unusual for Pyongyang to fire missiles from a city just 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the heavily fortified border separating the two Koreas. The North usually test-fires missiles launched from its eastern port city of Wonsan, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the border. 'It is remarkable that missiles were fired from Kaesong, a symbol of North-South cooperation,' said professor Yang Moo-jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies. The jointly-run Kaesong Industrial Complex brings together South Korean-owned companies with North Korean labour. 'Such action can mount tensions as it suggests that these missiles ... can target the entire Korean Peninsula.' (more)

North Korea launches two missiles, defies UN ban
29 June 2014 - North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into seas east off its coast on Sunday, South Korea's military said, defying a U.N. ban on the isolated country testing such weapons. The launch came days before Chinese President Xi Jinping's scheduled state visit to South Korea. China is the main benefactor of the North, which is also under sanctions for conducting nuclear tests. North Korea is also due hold talks with Japan this week to work out the details of Pyongyang's plan to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the reclusive state decades ago. The missiles, which appeared to be Scud class, were launched from an area on the east coast of the peninsula and flew about 500 km (310 miles) before crashing harmlessly into the water, an official for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The test firings on Sunday came three days after the North launched three short-range projectiles into the waters off its east coast, which flew about 190 km (120 miles) and landed in the sea. (more)

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