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Aug 26, 2015

Flooding in North Korea kills 40, strands thousands

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) – Heavy rain in North Korea killed 40 people, stranded thousands in flash floods and caused “massive” damage on the weekend, the International Federation of the Red Cross said and North Korean media said.

More than 11,000 people were forced from their homes or otherwise affected by the floods, which hit the northeastern city of Rajin, near the border with Russia and China, on Saturday and Sunday, Hler Gudjonsson, a spokesman for the Red Cross in Beijing told Reuters.

Aug 24, 2015

North, South Korea reach agreement to halt tensions

SEOUL (Reuters) – North and South Korea reached agreement early on Tuesday after more than two days of talks to end a standoff involving an exchange of artillery fire that had pushed the divided peninsula into a state of heightened military tension.

Under the accord reached after midnight on Tuesday morning, North Korea expressed regret over the recent wounding of South Korean soldiers in a landmine incident and Seoul agreed to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts, both sides said.

Aug 23, 2015

North, South Korea talk all night, to resume Sunday, in bid to end standoff

SEOUL (Reuters) – Top aides to the leaders of North and South Korea were due to resume talks on Sunday after negotiating through the night in a bid to ease tensions that brought the peninsula to the brink of armed conflict.

The meeting at the Panmunjom truce village inside the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) began on Saturday evening, shortly after North Korea’s deadline for Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts or face military action, and broke before dawn on Sunday.

Aug 21, 2015

North Korea orders troops on war footing after exchange of fire with South

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his troops onto a war footing from 5 p.m on Friday after his government issued an ultimatum to Seoul to halt anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts by Saturday afternoon or face military action.

South Korean Vice Defence Minister Baek Seung-joo said it was likely the North would fire at some of the 11 sites where the loudspeakers are set up on the South’s side of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), which separates the two countries.

Aug 19, 2015

The flying marshal: North Korea builds private runways for plane-loving Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – His father was afraid to fly, but North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has taken to the skies, building a series of small runways long enough to land light, private aircraft next to some of his palaces, satellite imagery shows.

Construction on Kim’s personal landing strips began in 2014 and some were completed as recently as last month, according to satellite imagery identified by Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

Aug 10, 2015

Comrade capitalism: North Korea seeks investors for brewery

SEOUL (Reuters) – For the boldest frontier market investor: North Korea is looking to raise $39 million from foreign investors to fund a new brewery in Wonsan, an eastern port city where leader Kim Jong Un has big development ambitions.

The isolated country recently announced more than 100 separate projects seeking foreign investment in the Wonsan-Kumgang Development Zone, a mountainous region where leader Kim keeps palaces and a summer residence.

Aug 3, 2015

In North Korean grassroots capitalism, ticks and grasshoppers skip

SEOUL (Reuters) – From the dark alleys of Pyongyang, the showpiece North Korean capital, tiny specks of torchlight shine carefully into the eyes of passersby, leading to bustling and illegal street markets where traders, usually women, call out “buy, buy!”

The “maeddugi shijang”, or “grasshopper markets,” get their name from the lightning-quick way traders must pack up and hop from place to place to evade authorities in a country making a grudging embrace of free enterprise.

Jul 21, 2015

North Korea says not interested in Iran-like nuclear talks with U.S.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea is not interested in an Iran-like dialogue with the United States to give up its nuclear capabilities, the isolated country’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement said North Korea’s nuclear program was an “essential deterrence” against U.S. foreign policy toward the reclusive country, which the North views as hostile.

Jul 20, 2015

U.S. Admiral says his South China Sea surveillance flight ‘routine’

SEOUL (Reuters) – A top U.S. Navy admiral said he joined a routine surveillance flight over the disputed South China Sea on Saturday and that the U.S. was committed to freedom of navigation in the region.

Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, confirmed at a press roundtable in Seoul on Monday that he had been aboard the seven-hour flight of a Boeing P-8 surveillance plane, but gave no specific details about the flight.

Jul 14, 2015

Two-wheeled revolution: Pyongyang installs bike lanes

SEOUL, July 14 (Reuters) – North Korea has installed cycle
lanes on major thoroughfares running through Pyongyang in an
apparent bid to cut down on pedestrian accidents as more people
have the cash to spend on bicycles to get around.

Bicycles are an expensive but popular mode of transport for
many in an impoverished and reclusive country where private car
ownership, although on the rise, is still rare.