SEOUL, July 23 -- South Korean jets fired warning shots after a Russian military plane violated South Korea's airspace on Tuesday, Seoul officials said, in the first such incident between the countries.
Three Russian military planes initially entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its east coast before one of them entered the country's territorial sky, the South's Defense Ministry said. South Korean fighter jets then scrambled to the area to fire warning shots, a ministry official said, requesting anonymity due to department rules. The Russian plane left the area but it returned and violated the South Korean airspace again later Tuesday, the ministry official said. He said the South Korean fighter jets fired warning shots again. Each time, the Russian plane didn't return fire, the official said. It was the first time a Russian military plane violated South Korean airspace, according to South Korean officials.
The airspace the Russian plane violated was above a group of South Korean-held islets roughly halfway between South Korea and Japan that has been a source of territorial disputes between them. Russia isn't a party in those disputes. The three Russian planes had entered the South Korean air defense identification zone with two Chinese military planes. But it wasn't immediately known whether the two countries deliberately did so, according to the South Korean official. Before their joint flights with the Russian planes, the Chinese planes entered South Korea's air defense identification zone off its southwest coast earlier Tuesday, according to the South Korean official. Chinese planes have occasionally entered South Korea's air defense identification zone in recent years. South Korea's Defense Ministry said it plans to summon Russian and Chinese Embassy officials later Tuesday to register formal protests.
SEOUL, June 30 -- President Donald Trump stepped foot into North Korea on Sunday, making him the first US leader to enter the country.
The two leaders greeted each other warmly after crossing the open ground of the de-militarised zone separating the country. “Stepping across that line was a great honour, a lot of progress has been made,” Mr Trump told the assembled press after Kim Jong-Un accompanied him back onto the South Korean side of the de-militarised zone. South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that Mr Kim accepted Mr Trump’s invitation to meet when the US president visits the heavily fortified site at the Korean border village of Panmunjom. Mr Moon praised the two leaders for “being so brave” to hold the meeting and said: “I hope President Trump will go down in history as the president who achieves peace on Korean Peninsula.” Earlier, Mr Trump expressed his desire to be the first sitting US president to cross into North Korea when he makes his first trip to the DMZ.
“I look forward to saying hello to him if that all finally works out,” Mr Trump said. “I guess there’s always a chance that it might not, but it sounds like the teams would like to have that work out, so that’s good.” Mr Trump made his audacious offer to meet Mr Kim at the DMZ in a tweet on Saturday before meetings at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, jolting the gathering of world leaders as well as officials in the US and Seoul. The American and South Korean governments have scrambled to arrange the meeting, but there is so far no public indication Mr Kim will show up.
BANGKOK, June 21 -- Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to discuss at their weekend summit a planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this year in South Korea, an ASEAN diplomat said.
"If the leaders agree, the meeting will take place this November in Busan, South Korea," the diplomat said on the condition of anonymity, The diplomat said the topic is on the agenda at a two-day ASEAN summit that begins Saturday in Bangkok. It will also be discussed by foreign ministers ahead of the summit. ASEAN leaders have been carefully considering how to go about extending the invitation to North Korea, fearing that it may discredit the honor of ASEAN "if Kim turns it down," the diplomat said. ASEAN and South Korea will be holding a Commemorative Summit, which will mark the 30th anniversary of the Korea-ASEAN Dialogue Relations, on Nov. 25-26 in Busan. South Korean President Moon Jae In is said to be mulling a joint invitation, to be signed by ASEAN leaders and himself, while others have suggested that Moon either extend an invitation himself or that Thailand, as ASEAN chair, extend it. The main topic for discussion will be "peace and stability in the region, and the role of ASEAN," the diplomat said. If the meeting takes place, it is proposed to be a tripartite "special session" among ASEAN leaders and the leaders of North and South Korea. When asked who initiated the proposed meeting with Kim, the diplomat said Indonesia, but soon after South Korea also broached the topic. He added that if the meeting materializes, it will be a turning point in North Korea diplomacy, with the 10-member group taking a greater role in talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim, held in February in Hanoi, ended without an agreement due to a gap over the scope of North Korea's denuclearization and sanctions relief from the United States.
ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. All 10 nations have diplomatic ties with North Korea.
BEIJING, June 20 -- Xi Jinping on Thursday became the first Chinese president to visit North Korea in 14 years and met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the nation's capital, China's state-run media reported, amid the stalled denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Xi's first visit to North Korea since he came to power in 2013 reflects the improvement in bilateral ties after Kim made his first trip as supreme leader to China in March last year. At Pyongyang's airport, Xi was greeted by Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and the two leaders shook hands, Chinese media reported. Xi was accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, and senior officials such as top diplomat Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Later in the day, the two leaders began their talks. Xi was expected to call on Kim to maintain dialogue with the United States toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and to focus on building up the country's moribund economy. The Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, said Thursday in an editorial that North Korea welcomes Xi's visit. The nation's friendship with China is a "cornerstone to protect peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region," North Korea's most influential newspaper said. Beijing and Pyongyang are marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.
BEIJING, June 18 -- Xi Jinping will make his first official visit to North Korea this week, the first by a Chinese president in more than a decade, state-run news agency Xinhua reported on Monday night.
Hu Zhaoming, spokesman for the Communist Party’s International Department, said Xi’s visit on Thursday and Friday followed an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. North Korean state media also confirmed the visit on Monday. It was widely reported in January that Xi accepted an invitation after a meeting with Kim in Beijing, but neither side had confirmed a date for the visit. Xi is also expected to attend the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, next week, but Beijing has yet to confirm whether the Chinese leader will meet US President Donald Trump. Ko Min-jung, a spokeswoman for the South Korean presidential office, said Xi’s trip to North Korea would promote “the peaceful resolution of the Korean peninsula issue”. “I hope that this visit will contribute to the early resumption of talks on the complete denuclearisation of and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean peninsula,” Ko said. But, she added, there was no plan for Xi to visit South Korea before or after the G20 summit.
SEOUL, May 31 -- North Korea's special representative for U.S. affairs Kim Hyok Chol, who led his country's preparations for its February meeting with the United States, has been executed for his role in the summit's breakdown, a South Korean newspaper reported Friday.
Citing an unnamed North Korean source, The Chosun Ilbo said the former ambassador to Spain was executed along with four senior Foreign Ministry officials in March at Mirim Airport in the suburbs of Pyongyang. The source said the punishment came after an investigation was conducted.
The report, which is yet to be independently verified, also said Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, has been laying low after accompanying her brother to the summit in Hanoi with U.S. President Donald Trump. Kim Hyok Chol, who was involved in the pre-summit talks while serving on North Korea's powerful State Affairs Commission, and the ministry officials were accused of being U.S. "spies" who betrayed Kim Jong Un, according to the report.
Kim Yong Chol, a close aide to Kim Jong Un who was seen to have led the country's diplomatic efforts with the United States and South Korea, was banished to a hard labor and re-education camp in Chagang Province. He was dismissed as director of the United Front Department of the ruling Workers' Party, the South Korean daily said. The Feb. 27-28 summit in the Vietnamese capital ended abruptly amid differences over the scope of denuclearization measures North Korea would commit to taking in exchange for sanctions relief. The talks remain in a stalemate.
SHANGHAI, May 16 -- North Korea has suffered its severest drought in 37 years, state-run media reported Wednesday, fanning fears about food shortage in the nation whose economy has been already sluggish amid international economic sanctions.
"According to a meteorologist, the average precipitation of the country from January to early May was 54.4 mm (millimeters), 42.3 percent of the average annual precipitation," the Korean Central News Agency said. "It is the lowest figure since 1982" when the average precipitation in North Korea was 51.2 mm, the news agency said, adding, "The agricultural sector is directing efforts to securing water to prevent drought damage." The United Nations has estimated that more than 10 million North Koreans, or about 40 percent of the population, are undernourished. The country has faced food shortages due partly to natural disasters including floods and a failing food distribution policy in the past.
North Korea's economy is also believed to be lackluster against a backdrop of economic sanctions aimed at preventing it from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
SEOUL, May 4 -- North Korea on Saturday fired a barrage of short-range missiles in the direction of the Sea of Japan, the Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
Pyongyang "fired multiple rounds of unidentified missiles from its east coast town of Wonsan in the northeastern direction between 9:06 a.m. and 9:27 a.m. today," the JCS said in a release. The missiles flew for a range of about 70 km to 100 km. The Japanese government said these were not ballistic missiles and they did not reach the country’s exclusive economic zone.
In April 2018, Pyongyang announced it was halting tests of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles of various range with the goal of developing the socialist economy and improving living conditions of its citizens. After that last May North Korea eliminated the Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where six underground explosions had been conducted. Between 2016 and 2017, North Korea carried out nearly 40 ballistic missile launches.
KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 -- A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killingthe half-brother of North Korea's leader has been freed.
Doan Thi Huong, 30, was charged along with an Indonesian woman of poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Huong received a jail term of several years which was cut due to sentence remissions. After a lengthy trial, Doan Thi Huong pleaded guilty last month to a lesser charge of "causing injury" over the 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Nam, making her the only person convicted for a murder that made headlines around the world. Malaysian prosecutors dropped a murder charge following that. She was freed from a prison outside the Malaysian capital at about 7:20am (23:20 GMT Thursday), her lawyer Hisyam Teh Poh Teik told AFP news agency, adding that she would return to Vietnam later on Friday. Weeks earlier, Indonesian Siti Aisyah - the only other person to face trial over the killing - was released and flew home after her murder charge was withdrawn. The pair always denied having committed murder, arguing that they were pawns in a plan hatched by North Korean agents who fled Malaysia after the killing. South Korea accused Pyongyang of plotting the assassination. Journalists waiting outside the jail saw a van and a car with tinted windows race past, and a court official at the scene also confirmed Huong had been released.
Speaking before her release, Hisyam had said she was "definitely looking forward to going home". The 30-year-old former hair salon worker was expected to head to an immigration office in the administrative capital Putrajaya to sort out documentation, before flying to Vietnam. Other suspects in the killing of Kim Jong Nam have escaped justice. Exclusive pictures shows the man believed to be the chemist who prepared the VX nerve agent that killed Nam. In exclusive video thought to be captured in late 2017, he is seen, relaxed and happy while singing Karaoke in a restaurant in China with his wife and friends. "There was a golden opportunity to hold them accountable," Hoo Chiew Ping of the National University of Malaysia said. "We have completely lost that."
While there is relief for the women - who said they believed they were taking part in a TV show prank - those behind the plot are unlikely to ever face justice. "The assassins have not been brought to justice," said Hisyam, adding the women's legal teams consistently argued their North Korean handlers were the real murderers. The pair were arrested after they were captured on airport CCTV cameras walking up behind Kim, as he waited for a flight, and one was seen clasping her hands over his face. Kim, heir apparent to North Korea's leadership until he was exiled from his homeland, died in agony shortly afterwards, his face smeared with poison. The defence stage of the case was due to start in March, but in a shock move, prosecutors announced they were withdrawing the murder charge against Aisyah, 27, and she flew back to Jakarta. Her release followed intense diplomatic pressure from Indonesia, including from President Joko Widodo. Vietnam then stepped up pressure for Huong's murder charge to be dropped. Their initial request was refused, but at the start of April prosecutors offered her a reduced charge, paving the way for her release.
PYONGYANG, April 27 -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has completed his visit to Russia has his armored train arrived to a rail station in Pyongyang, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported on Saturday.
"Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and supreme commander of the armed forces of the DPRK, returned home by the private train at dawn on Saturday after successfully concluding his visit to the Russian Federation," the agency said.
"After getting off the train amid the enthusiastic cheering of the masses, Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un received a greeting report from the head of the guard of honor of the Korean People's Army," it said. Negotiations between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un were held on Thursday on Russky Island in Vladivostok. The leaders thoroughly discussed the state and prospects of interstate relations and dwelled on issues linked to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, in particular the denuclearization problem. The Vladivostok summit became the first face-to-face meeting between Putin and Kim Jong-un.