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Photo: Dong-A Ilbo via Getty Images/Getty Images

Chung Eui-yong, South Korea's national security adviser, said on Sunday that the United States is “very actively” trying to convince North Korea to return to negotiations ahead of an unofficial deadline for dialogue, Reuters reports.

Background: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un warned in October that the U.S. had until year’s end to take a "substantial step to make complete and irreversible withdrawal" of its "hostile policy." Chung said South Korea is taking North Korea's deadline "very seriously."

Why it matters: North Korean officials have warned the United States not to ignore the deadline and cautioned that the likelihood of restarting talks is shrinking. A North Korean official said Pyongyang expects reciprocal steps from Washington by the end of the year, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: Chung said South Korea has created backup plans if the deadline passes without any progress.

  • “Only if talks between high-rank officials happen and lead to substantial progress, will the third North Korea-United States summit be possible,” Chung said, according to Reuters.

The big picture: Denuclearization talks between the U.S. and North Korea have stalled since a meeting in February between President Trump and Kim in Hanoi left both leaders empty-handed. Since the breakdown of talks, North Korea has carried out multiple rounds of missile tests.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

A person walking past China's central bank in Beijing in August 2007. Photo: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images

China's central bank declared on Friday that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, banning crypto-related transactions and cryptocurrency mining, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: China's government is now following through with its goal of cracking down on unofficial virtual currencies, which it has said are a financial, social and national security risk and a contributor to global warming.

Biden's big bet backfires

Two key dealmakers — Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) — leave a luncheon in the Capitol yesterday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/L.A. Times via Getty Images

President Biden bit off too much, too fast in trying to ram through what would be the largest social expansion in American history, top Democrats privately say.

Why it matters: At the time Biden proposed it, he had his mind set on a transformational accomplishment that would put him in the pantheon of FDR and JFK.

Biden sinks in swing districts

Photo: Biden speaks about wild fires and climate change in Sacramento on September 13, 2021. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/ AFP via Getty Images

Sudden doubts about President Biden's competence — on Afghanistan, immigration and COVID — are driving double-digit drops in his approval in private polling in swing House seats, The Cook Political Report's Amy Walter writes.

Why it matters: "[T]hese early mistakes go directly to the very rationale of his presidency; that it would be low drama and high competence."