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The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is at risk of becoming outdated in a more dangerous world.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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Sep 9, 2021 - World

North Korea forgoes typical saber-rattling in midnight military parade

Watching news coverage in Seoul, South Korea, of North Korea's military parade on Sept. 9. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared at a middle-of-the-night military parade in Pyongyang on Thursday to mark the communist state's 73rd founding anniversary.

Why it matters: Compared to other recent parades, Thursday's was relatively calm. Kim reportedly gave no fiery speech against the United States and its allies and the country did not display intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to the New York Times.

Aug 30, 2021 - World

UN watchdog: North Korea has restarted key nuclear reactor

A person watching news footage of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking in Pyongyang in January 2021. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea appears to have resumed operations at a key nuclear reactor that is believed to produce fuel for nuclear weapons, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency said in a report dated Friday.

Why it matters: The move suggests North Korea is working to enlarge its nuclear arsenal after denuclearization talks with the U.S. stalled during the Trump administration.

Jun 21, 2021 - World

Biden extends sanctions against North Korea

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Monday that it is extending for another year a more than decade old executive order declaring a national emergency over the nuclear threat from North Korea.

Why it matters: In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Biden noted North Korea's "pursuit of nuclear and missile programs" and its other "provocative, destabilizing" actions continue to pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Jun 18, 2021 - World

NK state media: Kim Jong Un says prepare for "dialogue and confrontation" with U.S.

Kim Jong Un. Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country should prepare for dialogue and especially "confrontation" with the United States, state media KCNA reported Friday local time, per Reuters.

Why it matters: President Biden in May met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Both leaders reaffirmed the importance of North Korea's denuclearization.

May 21, 2021 - World

Biden appoints special envoy for North Korea

Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden announced Friday the appointment of Sung Kim as U.S. special envoy for North Korea.

Why it matters: Kim, currently a senior official at the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, has a long career in diplomacy with Asia. Biden said he and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are both "deeply concerned" about the situation in North Korea.

Apr 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

White House to take "calibrated, practical approach" to North Korea

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden administration will take a "calibrated, practical approach" to North Korea, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday.

Driving the news: Psaki said the administration has completed its review of U.S. policy toward North Korea. She did not elaborate on the findings, but suggested the administration would aim for a middle ground between former President Trump’s "grand bargain" and former President Obama’s "strategic patience" approach, AP noted.

Apr 21, 2021 - World

South Korean president: Trump "beat around the bush and failed" on North Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in speaking in Seoul in March 2021. Photo: Jeon Heon-Kyun/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized former President Trump's attempts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, telling the New York Times he "beat around the bush" with North Korea and "failed to pull it through."

Why it matters: Moon, now in his final year in office, called denuclearization a "matter of survival" for South Korea and urged President Biden to resume negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un after a standstill of nearly two years.

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.

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