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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)

Russia says North Korea ready for renewal of nuclear talks
21 November 2014 - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday North Korea was ready to resume stalled international talks on its nuclear programme. Russia's Lavrov told a news conference on Thursday: 'We got assurances from the high representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea that Pyongyang is ready for the restart of six-party talks, without pre-conditions.' North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States began talks in 2003 to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons but they were suspended after Pyongyang tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009. (more)

US charity helps North Korea fight drug-resistant TB
14 October 2014 - Despite worsening US-North Korean relations, an American charity is ramping up efforts against an epidemic of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the isolated country, where it says it is making inroads in fighting the deadly disease. The Eugene Bell Foundation travels to North Korea twice a year to treat TB patients at old-world facilities. The disease has found fertile ground in North Korea, where the population has been weakened by malnutrition since a famine in the 1990s. It appears an unlikely partnership: a Christian-based organization located in Washington, teaming up with an authoritarian government intolerant of religion. Yet the foundation, which does not proselytize, says it has a good working relationship with the North and its doctors. It started out providing food aid during the famine, but has since mostly helped the nation's creaky health system. (more)

Inter-Korean dialogue to resume after top Northern envoys' surprise visit
4 October 2014 - North and South Korea agreed on Saturday, 4 October to resume reconciliation talks after the North sent its most senior delegation ever to its estranged neighbour at just 24 hours' notice. The delegation, formally sent to attend the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, comprised Hwang Pyong So, a senior military aide and confidant to North Korea's supreme leader Kim Jong Un; another close adviser, and a senior official in the ruling Workers' Party and veteran of talks with the South. The team were given a demonstratively warm welcome by South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae -- the main policymaker on inter-Korean affairs -- and President Park Geun-hye's national security adviser, Kim Kwan-jin. No reason was given for the 12-hour visit, but the change in tone was striking after months of near daily-invective from state media directed at the South, and at President Park Geun-hye in particular. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

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)

The war that never ends between the Koreas
17 June 2014 - The 1950-53 Korean War, ended in an armed truce that has continued until now, leaving the two Koreas in a technical state of war. A maritime boundary between the two sides was drawn up unilaterally by the US-led United Nations, but peace did not ensue. Tensions are especially high along the string of five South Korean islands that define the maritime frontier, known as the 'Northern Limit Line' (NLL). Lately, the area has seen a sharp increase in artillery exchanges between the two Koreas. North Korea doesn't recognise the NLL. The line is not recognised internationally, either. North Korea warships and fishing boats routinely sail over the line, which commands strategic sea lanes into the industrial heartland of both Koreas. This has led to a spate of sea battles and artillery exchanges over the last 15 years. The disputed maritime frontier, the economic and strategic importance of the area, and a history of violent confrontations have made these otherwise sleepy islands one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints -- one that could drag in the United States and China as parties to the armistice. (more)

North Korea conducts firing drills near disputed border with South
29 April 2014 - North Korea conducted live fire drills on Tuesday in two areas near a disputed sea border with South Korea that have been the scene of deadly clashes and where they fired hundreds of artillery rounds only weeks ago. North Korea conducted similar drills in late March, firing more than 500 artillery rounds near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed maritime border that has been the de facto sea border since the 1950-53 Korean war. More than 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds back into the North's waters. The Northern Limit Line is an extension of the land border between the two Koreas, stretching into the sea west of the Korean peninsula. North Korea has refused to recognise the line as the sea border and has periodically challenged the South by violating it and demanding a new border be set further to the south. (more)


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