SEOUL – North Korea has been condemned internationally for conducting its most powerful nuclear test yet, but, across the border, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is also attracting flak for his policy of pursuing engagement with Pyongyang. Rebuked by U.S. President Donald Trump, Moon is facing growing calls at home to change course and take a tougher line against North Korea, even from his core support base of young liberals, according to hundreds of comments posted online. Moon, who swept to power after winning a May 9 election, remains hugely popular but his policy of pursuing both pressure and dialogue with the North is now under scrutiny. Trump was blunt about the situation facing South Korea, one of Washington's biggest allies in Asia. "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they (North Korea) only understand one thing," he said in a tweet on Sunday, after the nuclear test.
SEOUL/BERLIN - If North and South Korea succeed in their long-shot bid to host the 2032 Summer Olympics, any athletic feats may be overshadowed by the political achievements needed to make the games happen. Buoyed by the role the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics played in easing tensions last year, South and North Korean officials are to meet on Friday with the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland to discuss what would be the first-ever bid by two countries. To make Olympic history, experts say the bid would need to overcome international sanctions against North Korea, decades of mistrust between Seoul and Pyongyang, and wide political and economic differences between two countries still officially at war. The Switzerland meeting comes ahead of a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam, which will be key to the future of reclusive North Korea's relations with the world. Since the Olympic bid was announced after a summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang in September, South Korean officials have been pushing forward with plans despite the obstacles.
SEOUL/WASHINGTON – Ahead of a rare congress of the ruling party next month, secretive North Korea is revealing details of its weapons development program for the first time, showcasing its push to develop long-range nuclear missiles despite international sanctions. Until recently, information on the North's weapons program was hard to come by, with foreign governments and experts relying on satellite imagery, tiny samples of atomic particles collected after nuclear tests and mangled parts recovered from long-range launches. In just over a month, the North has published articles with detailed color photos on a range of tests and other activities that point to fast-paced efforts to build a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The reason for the revelations, many analysts say, is that Pyongyang believes that convincing the world, and its own people, of its nuclear prowess is as important as the prowess itself. Nevertheless, the isolated North's true capabilities and intentions remain unknown.
SEOUL – North Korea's missile program is progressing faster than expected, a South Korean minister said Tuesday, hours after the U.N. Security Council demanded the North halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests and condemned Sunday's test-launch. The reclusive North, which has defied all calls to rein in its weapons programs, even from its lone major ally, China, has been working on a missile, mounted with a nuclear warhead, capable of striking the U.S. mainland. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has called for an immediate halt to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programs and has warned that the "era of strategic patience" with North Korea under previous presidents was at an end. South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo told the country's National Assembly that Sunday's test-launch was "successful in flight." "It is considered an IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missile) of enhanced caliber compared to Musudan missiles that have continually failed," he said, referring to a class of missile designed to travel up to 3,000 to 4,000 km (1,860 to 2,485 miles).