North Korea | KUOW News and Information

North Korea

Updated at 5:10 p.m. ET

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. doesn't want to take military action against North Korea, but "all of the options are on the table" if a serious threat arises. Tillerson made his frank remarks in a visit to South Korea on Friday, a day after saying diplomatic efforts "have failed" to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

Tillerson's Asia tour began in Japan and will end in China. The top American diplomat is traveling without a press contingent.

The nerve agent that was used to kill Kim Jong-nam, brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, is among the most deadly chemical weapons developed.

It's also been banned by the United Nations.

According to Malaysian investigators, two female suspects coated their hands with the liquid toxin and wiped it on Kim Jong-nam’s face as he waited for a flight home to Macau. Investigators found VX on Kim’s face and eyes after his death.

Malaysian investigators want to talk with a senior North Korean diplomat in connection to the poisoning death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The development comes as the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lampur insists no poison was used.

In a surprising move, China's commerce ministry has announced that the country would be suspending its coal imports from North Korea. China released a statement Saturday saying that the freeze in imports will begin Sunday and will be in place through the end of the year.

A North Korean soldier looks at the southern side through a pair of binoculars at the border village of Panmunjom, north of Seoul, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2003.
AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

“It is very likely by the end of Mr. Trump's first term, the North Koreans will be able to reach Seattle.” —Michael Hayden, former head of the CIA and NSA.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that would never happen.

This week, we're the target

Jan 6, 2017
'Week in Review' panel Joni Balter, Knute Berger, Eli Sanders and Bill Radke.
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

The Washington State Legislature convenes on Monday and one of the issues on the table is a bill that would ban drivers from holding their phone while driving. Is this a necessity or distracted legislating?

The former head of the CIA General Michael Hayden said that by the end of Trump’s first four years in office, North Korea could have a nuclear weapon that would reach Seattle. Richard Ellings of the National Bureau of Asian Research says Seattle would be the perfect target. Is it time to move?  

North Korea got 2017 off to a menacing start. In his New Year's address, supreme leader Kim Jong Un warned that the nation was in the "final stage" of preparations to test an intercontinental ballistic missile.

A day later, President-elect Donald Trump said the North would never develop a nuclear weapon capable of striking the U.S. "It won't happen!" Trump tweeted.

In 2011, when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il died, the state news agency reported that Mount Paektu took on a supernatural glow, and that at its summit, Heaven Lake shook with cracking ice.

Those reports were pretty unscientific. But several years earlier, between 2002 and 2005, Mount Paektu had experienced a swarm of little earthquakes.

In a cavernous, dimly-lit auditorium in Washington last month, three officials took the stage.

They settled themselves into tan, leather armchairs and fielded questions, including this one: Name a global flashpoint you're looking to with concern?

"North Korea," came the reply from one. "And how the United States and China deal with that situation."

The exchange is worth noting because the three people on stage were current or former CIA officials.

It's well-known that Dear Leader was crazy about movies. What's less known — at least in the West — is that infamous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il was so crazy about them that he kidnapped a South Korean actress and a movie director in 1978 and forced them to work for him for years. That story is the subject of a new documentary called The Lovers and the Despot.

A powerful typhoon in North Korea has caused devastating floods, killing more than 130 people and displacing at least 100,000, according to United Nations agencies.

Typhoon Lionrock struck North Korea about two weeks ago. It triggered floods that have left at least 138 people dead and some 400 others missing, the U.N. resident coordinator's office says.

North's Korea's No. 2 diplomat in the U.K. has defected to South Korea — one of the highest-ranking officials to do so, according to South Korea.

A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry announced Wednesday that London-based Thae Yong Ho had recently arrived in the country and that he and his family are now under government protection, the Yonhap News Agency reports.

Kenneth Bae spent two years in a North Korean prison
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

After a year in the North Korean prison, Kenneth Bae softened toward his guards.


On the heels of new U.N. sanctions that could crimp its economic dealings with China, North Korea has fired six projectiles — possibly rockets or missiles — into the sea on the country's eastern coast, South Korean officials say.

The projectiles that were fired Thursday flew for at least 60 miles before hitting the water, according to media reports in South Korea.

From Seoul, NPR's Elise Hu reports:

About 4,000 soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas, have landed in South Korea in the past few weeks, to serve along the border of the two Koreas. As policy makers contend with the thorny security challenges of the region, soldiers are adjusting to more day-to-day challenges.

Fresh off the planes from central Texas, the men and women of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team say it's the snow that made the most noticeable first impression.

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