Jon Herskovitz

North Korea blows up reactor cooling tower

North Korea toppled the cooling tower at its plutonium-producing reactor on Friday in a symbolic move to show its commitment to a nuclear deal.

North Korea fetes torch with rally and songs

North Koreans waved flags, plastic flowers and danced in the streets of Pyongyang to welcome the Olympic torch on Monday after the destitute state had promised its main benefactor China an ''astonishing'' show. The global torch relay ahead of the Beijing Games in August has prompted protests against China's rights record in Tibet.

North Korea raises tensions with missile launch

North Korea test-fired several short-range missiles on Friday, South Korea said, in what analysts saw as a show of anger at Washington and the new conservative government in Seoul. The launch comes a day after the North expelled South Korean officials from a joint industrial complex north of the border.

Musical diplomacy as NY Phil plays Pyongyang

Cold War foes the United States and North Korea enjoyed a rare moment of harmony on Tuesday when the New York Philharmonic played an unprecedented concert in the hermit state. An audience of North Korea's communist elite gave America's oldest orchestra a standing ovation after a rousing set that took in Dvorak, Gershwin and a Korean folk song

NY Phil tries Dvorak diplomacy with North Korea

The New York Philharmonic arrived in a snowy Pyongyang on Monday to play the symphony From the New World in an overture to thaw still frozen ties from the Cold War era between the United States and North Korea. If well-received, the concert would make a ''tiny contribution'' toward bringing the United States and North Korea closer together, said music director, Lorin Maazel

North Korea, last Cold Warrior standing at Games

North Korean athletes will enter the 2008 Beijing Olympics with pluck, a soldier-like fighting spirit and a completely different concept of international sport to the one embraced by former Cold War allies. Eastern Bloc states used to spend heavily on sports systems that turned out Goliaths, whose victories at the Olympics were used to validate what they argued was a superior political system.

Lee coasts to South Korea poll victory

Right-wing businessman Lee Myung-bak won South Korea's presidential election by a landslide on Wednesday with his promises to make voters better off and stand up to North Korea, TV exit polls showed. The wide margin of victory put to rest concerns in his camp that a probe in allegations of fraud by Lee might deter voters.

South Korea likely to vote for businessman president

South Koreans went to the polls on Wednesday expected to choose as president a former CEO vowing to knock the economy into shape and stand up to the North, but whose authority could be weakened by a fraud investigation. The last legally allowed opinion polls a week ago showed former Hyundai Group executive and ex-Seoul mayor Lee Myung-bak on course to to victory.

Floods hit N Korea, Bangladesh hard

North Korean authorities have indicated flooding may have left up to 300 000 people homeless, a United Nations aid-agency spokesperson said on Wednesday. North Korea said hundreds were dead or missing. Meanwhile, at least 38 more people died overnight in flood-hit Bangladesh.

‘Life in hell’ for South Korean hostages’ families

Sleeping feels like a sin for an exhausted Ryu Haeng-sik who looks after his two young daughters in suburban Seoul, waiting for word on his wife held by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. ''It feels like my heart is being scorched. It's unbelievable how sinful I feel for just eating and sleeping,'' Ryu said in an interview.

‘Dear Leader’ Kim slims down

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's trademark paunch presses a little less snugly against his jumpsuits these days, but is that due to a healthier lifestyle or is he recovering from illness? Two South Korean dailies ran pictures on Thursday of a slimmer Kim (65) at a meeting this week with China's foreign minister.

North Korea ready to shut reactor — US envoy

The top United States nuclear envoy, just returned from a rare visit to North Korea, said on Friday that Pyongyang was ready to disable its nuclear reactor. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said talks during his some-24-hour surprise trip to Pyongyang were detailed and positive.

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