North Korea

The big picture

Nuclear challenges from Russia, Iran and North Korea now fall to Biden

North Korea may prove the most difficult of all.

Nov 12, 2020 - World
A landmark nuclear arms treaty shows its age

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is at risk of becoming outdated in a more dangerous world.

Mar 7, 2020 - World
How North Korea executes people

Most are public executions by firing squad.

Jun 11, 2019 - World
How ready is the U.S. for a North Korean missile attack?

We break down North Korea's missile capabilities and how prepared the U.S. is to block them if necessary.

Jan 5, 2018 - Politics & Policy

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Apr 9, 2021 - World

Kim Jong-un likens North Korea's economic struggles to 1990s famine

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking in Pyongyang in March 2020. Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

At a party meeting Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un compared the ills the country currently faces to the severe famines it suffered in the 1990s, according to AP.

Why it matters: Groups monitoring North Korea have not seen signs of mass starvation or a growing humanitarian disaster, but the comparison may underscore how Kim views the country's current economic difficulties.

Mar 24, 2021 - World

North Korea launches two unidentified projectiles into East Sea

A person watching North Korea leader Kim Jong-un on a television in Seoul, South Korea, in January 2021. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

The South Korean military said North Korea fired at least two unidentified projectiles into the East Sea on Thursday local time. Japan's prime minister said the projectiles were ballistic missiles, according to AP.

Driving the news: The latest test comes one day after news broke that the North had tested a short-range cruise missile system last weekend, though U.S. officials described that test as “normal military activity."

The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.

Kim Jong-un calls U.S. "our biggest enemy"

Photo: API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Friday called the United States his country's "biggest enemy" and pushed to continue expanding North Korea's arsenal, according to text of his remarks at the Workers' Party Congress meeting published by state media.

Why it matters: Kim's comments come days before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.

Oct 10, 2020 - World

North Korea unveils new ballistic missile during military parade

A person in Seoul watching the North Korean military parade on television on Oct. 10. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea unveiled what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile during a military parade on Saturday night, though it is unclear whether the weapon is functional or built for show, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: If it does work, analysts say it would be North Korea's largest long-range missile to date, potentially able to fly further and carry a more powerful nuclear warhead than the country's previous ICBMs.

Sep 25, 2020 - World

Kim Jong-un apologizes over killing of South Korean official

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un apologized Friday for the death of a South Korean official who was killed while seemingly attempting to defect to the North by sea, AP reports.

Why it matters: It's a rare bout of humility from Kim toward his neighbor to the south, and could de-escalate rising tensions between the two nations — at least for the time being.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 5, 2020 - World

How new tech raises the risk of nuclear war

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts believe the risk of the use of a nuclear weapon is as high now as it has been since the Cuban missile crisis.

The big picture: Nuclear war remains the single greatest present threat to humanity — and one that is poised to grow as emerging technologies, like much faster missiles, cyber warfare and artificial intelligence, upset an already precarious nuclear balance.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jun 17, 2020 - World

North Korea to deploy troops into former inter-Korean cooperation zones

Kim Jong-un in Hanoi. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty

North Korea has announced it will send troops into sites previously used to foster cooperation with South Korea a day after demolishing an inter-Korean liaison office.

Why it matters: North Korea is wiping out all remnants of the detente with South Korea that began in 2018, and taking dramatic symbolic steps to signal a new more hostile era in relations. Pyongyang has also said it will resume military exercises and reestablish guard posts near the heavily fortified border.

May 24, 2020 - World

O'Brien: U.S. likely to impose sanctions if China moves ahead with Hong Kong law

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the U.S. government will likely impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong and China if Beijing moves ahead with a proposed national security law for Hong Kong that could constrain the special region's autonomy.

Why it matters: O'Brien said the U.S. could revoke a special status that allows Hong Kong to function as an international financial hub, stating that it's "hard to see" how the financial community can remain in the city if the law is enacted.

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