North Korea | KUOW News and Information

North Korea

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.

North Korea was celebratory in its claims that it detonated its first hydrogen bomb on Wednesday.

"Through the test conducted with indigenous wisdom, technology and efforts [North Korea] fully proved that the technological specifications of the newly developed H-bomb for the purpose of test were accurate and scientifically verified the power of smaller H-bomb," the country's official news agency reported.

But the White House, along with many others, isn't buying it.

Deciphering events in North Korea often seems more like long-distance psychoanalysis than reporting.

So it's not surprising there's a dearth of hard information about the country's latest nuclear test. In a statement heavy on propaganda and light on details, North Korea claimed it successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test Wednesday morning.

The most closed country on earth — North Korea — is now denying its involvement in one of the biggest corporate hacks in history.

Someone attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment last week and made public troves of stolen data, including five unreleased films, medical records and salaries of nearly 7,000 global employees. But before a recent denial — another North Korean diplomat played coy about the country's involvement.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Kenneth Bae’s family got the call they had been waiting for early Saturday morning. 

North Korea had freed him. 

Later that night, his plane touched down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a military base south of Seattle. 

Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood, Wash., was free for the first time since 2012 when he landed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Seattle Saturday night.

“It’s been an amazing two years,” he told reporters.

In 2012, Bae was sentenced in Pyongyang to 15 years hard labor, convicted of a Christian conspiracy to overthrow the North Korean government. Attempts by the Obama administration to secure his release were unsuccessful until last week.

freekennow.com

Kenneth Bae, a Lynnwood man detained for two years in North Korea, has been freed, U.S. officials say.

Detained in 2012, Bae was convicted of trying to overthrow the Pyongyang regime and sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

Updated at 4:45 a.m. ET Sunday

Americans Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, held for months in North Korea, received a joyful homecoming Saturday as their plane set down at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Seattle.

Bae, 45, a Korean-American missionary and tour guide from Lynnwood, Wash., thanked family and supporters for not forgetting about him during his detention.

Inside The State Of North Korea

Feb 19, 2014
Flickr Photo/Gabriel Britto (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds speaks with Clark Sorenson, director of UW's Center for Korea Studies, following a United Nations report accusing North Korean leadership of crimes against humanity.

KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The Seattle-area family of Kenneth Bae, an American man held in North Korea, said their hopes fell again this week. For the second time, North Korea rescinded its invitation for a U.S. envoy to discuss Bae’s possible release.

AP Photo/The Choson Sinbo, Mun Kwang Son

President Obama said Thursday the United States is still trying to win the release of former Lynnwood, Wash., resident Kenneth Bae from North Korea.

Kenneth Bae's Sister, Mother Attend State Of The Union

Jan 29, 2014
Bae family / Freekennow.com

David Hyde hears from Terri Chung about her experience attending Tuesday’s State of the Union address. She is the sister of Lynnwood resident Kenneth Bae, who has been imprisoned in North Korea for 15 months.

AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon

When former basketball star Dennis Rodman implied to CNN that Kenneth Bae, a Lynnwood, Wash., man imprisoned in North Korea, had committed a crime, Bae’s sister lashed out.

Bae family / Freekennow.com

It’s been a year since Kenneth Bae, a missionary who once hailed from Lynnwood, Wash., was arrested and imprisoned in North Korea. Over the weekend, his family quietly marked the anniversary of his arrest.

AP Photo/The Choson Sinbo, Mun Kwang Son

The mother of a Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years hard labor in North Korea has spoken about their emotional reunion when she visited him in prison.

AP Photo/The Choson Sinbo, Mun Kwang Son

When Myunghee Bae stepped into the hospital room in North Korea on Friday, she wept as she embraced her son.

Flickr Photo/CJ_Supreme

The Korean War ended 60 years ago. It caused many hardships, including the separation of  family members between the North and the South. To this day, there is no official contact between citizens of the two countries. No phone calls. No letters.

But finally in 2000, North and South Korea agreed to hold family reunions. The last one took place in 2010. Another reunion was scheduled to take place today at a North Korean resort, but it was abruptly postponed over the weekend by the North Korean government.

Why did this happen? And what does it mean for diplomacy between the two countries? Charles Armstrong is professor of Korean studies at Columbia University. He talked with Ross Reynolds.

AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin

Former pro basketball player Dennis Rodman has returned to North Korea for another so-called “basketball diplomacy” tour. Yet just last week, North Korea canceled the visit of US envoy Robert King, who was attempting to secure the release of Lynnwood resident Kenneth Bae.

In the past, North Korea has attempted to use detentions of Americans to win diplomatic concessions. Why did they cancel King’s trip? And what does North Korea gain by inviting Dennis Rodman back? David Hyde spoke with Charles Armstrong, professor of history at Columbia University, to find out.

Dennis Rodman: Kim Jong Un is "awesome."

Does Rodman's attitude toward the North Korean leader help legitimize his regime? North Korean media has been playing up the unlikely duo's relationship, but Armstrong had this to say about Rodman's testimony:


KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Kenneth Bae, an American man from Lynnwood, Wash., has spent more than nine months imprisoned in North Korea. That’s longer than any other American recently held there. Bae’s family members say their frustration and worries grow as each day passes.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Compensating The Wrongfully Convicted
Imagine you’re wrongfully convicted of a violent crime and sent to prison. After many years, you’re exonerated by DNA evidence and released. When you leave prison, you get zero compensation from the state for the time you spent in jail. That used to be a probable scenario, but thanks to a new law that went into effect on Sunday, people wrongfully convicted of crimes are now allowed to file a claim for damages up to $50,000 against the state. We talk with Alan Northrop, who was convicted of rape, burglary and kidnapping in 1993 and exonerated and released from prison in 2010.

Former President Carter Plans North Korea Trip
Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly planning a trip to North Korea. The White House confirmed Carter’s plans on Monday. He’s expected to try to win the release of Kenneth Bae, the Lynnwood man sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for “committing hostile acts” against the North Korean government. We talk with Professor Charles Armstrong of Columbia University about Kenneth Bae and the delicate dance of diplomacy with the North Korean regime.

The Pope's Performance Abroad
Pope Francis spent his first week abroad in Brazil. When asked about homosexual clergy, Francis said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" What did Francis reveal about his character and agenda during his travels? National Catholic Reporter's Jamie Mans  on and Father Paul Janowiak of Santa Clara University join us.

The Weather And Hike Of The Week
Michael Fagin suggests a hike that matches the week’s weather forecast.

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