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OPINION
October 16, 2009 | Paul B. Stares, Paul B. Stares is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and the coauthor of "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea."
Just a few months ago, the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, appeared to be a lame duck in both senses of the term. In public appearances, he looked deathly ill after suffering a severe stroke in 2008, and preparations were reportedly underway for one of his sons to succeed him. Fast-forward to today, and Kim is lame no more. Not only has he regained his vigor, judging by his performance during recent visits by Bill Clinton and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, but talk of his succession has also become muted.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 18, 2014 | By Lee Romney
SAN FRANCISCO - For decades, former eight-term Bay Area Rep. Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey Jr. has dreamed of a Korean War battle moment he cannot shake: Peering into a trench he sees the terrified faces of his teenage opponents, clutching wicker baskets full of grenades. He empties his weapon. Last week, at 86, he at last had an opportunity for personal reconciliation. As a member of a small delegation led by Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, McCloskey traveled to Pyongyang with a singular intention.
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WORLD
April 2, 2013 | By Jung-yoon Choi
SEOUL -- After days of harsh threats against the United States and  South Korea, North Korea on Wednesday morning banned South Koreans' entry to the Kaesong industrial complex that is operated jointly by the North and South in a region just above the  demilitarized zone. The action came a day after Pyongyang announced that it would restart a reactor that was closed in 2007 and increase production of nuclear weapons material. The South Korean Unification Ministry said the North was allowing workers already at the Kaesong industrial park to cross the border to return to the South.
WORLD
February 14, 2014 | By Paul Richter
BEIJING -- Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Friday appealed to China to rein in its North Korean ally and to ease its provocative territorial claims, but after a day of talks Beijing's response was unclear. In meetings with President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese officials, Kerry urged them to use their special leverage to restrain Pyongyang, which experts fear is close to another test of a nuclear weapon or missile. He also pressed the leaders to give up controversial claims to territory based on historical maps that U.S. officials contend aren't legal under international law. “It's important to resolve these differences in a peaceful, nonconfrontational way,” Kerry said of the claims, which have driven up tensions between China and neighbors such as Japan, South Korea and the Philippines.
OPINION
March 4, 2011 | By Selig S. Harrison
South Korea's air force has been dropping balloons with leaflets into North Korea describing the struggle to oust Moammar Kadafi in Libya and calling on the North Koreans to rise up against their oppressors. This is a ridiculous exercise for the obvious reason that Libya is split by countless tribal and regional divisions. By contrast, North Korea is ethnically homogeneous and strongly united by a nationalist heritage deeply rooted in the struggles against the Japanese colonial occupation and three years of U.S. saturation bombing during the Korean War. More important, the South Korean leaflet barrage illustrates the utter ignorance of the conservative ruling party in the South concerning the nationalist ethos of North Korea, and thus explains why the current hard-line U.S. policy toward Pyongyang, reflecting the same lack of realism, is not working.
OPINION
November 30, 2010 | By Sung-Yoon Lee
Although North Korea's attack last week on the island of Yeonpyeong was the first time since the Korean War that it has directed artillery fire on South Korean land, targeting civilians and homes, it follows a long pattern of calculated acts designed to compel South Korea and the United States to resort to crisis management; that is, to reward the North for little more than temporarily backing down. The response by Seoul and Washington this time should be to impose a palpable penalty on Pyongyang.
OPINION
April 21, 2011 | By Dorothy Stuehmke
North Korea has recently made a desperate international appeal for food aid. Reports from aid workers and international nongovernmental organizations warn of a major food shortage. As the United States deliberates whether to restart a food aid program in North Korea, it must consider the following questions: Is there a true humanitarian need, can we address the potential risk of food diversion and can a properly monitored program allow us to engage with the vulnerable citizens of one of the most isolated countries in the world?
OPINION
March 6, 2013 | By Hui Zhang
The U.N. Security Council is set to vote this week on a new round of sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's February nuclear test, and with China's backing, it is likely to pass. Beijing was "strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed" to the nuclear test, as Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said. However, Beijing must walk a fine line in deciding how far it will go to press Pyongyang to change course. North Korea's nuclear test has again shaken regional stability and undermines China's national interests.
WORLD
August 27, 2010 | By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
Former President Carter on Friday left the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, after negotiating the release of an American who had been imprisoned since January for illegally entering the secretive country, officials said. Carter went to North Korea this week seeking the release of Boston native Aijalon Mahli Gomes, a former English teacher in South Korea who was sentenced to eight years in prison for entering the North from China in January. North Korea's state-run media reported in July that Gomes had tried to commit suicide.
OPINION
November 24, 2010
Such Middle Eastern trouble spots as Iran and Afghanistan get most of the attention in this country, but North Korea is determined to demonstrate that it is the world's biggest threat to stability. The Obama administration has few good options for dealing with Pyongyang's reckless regime, but the North's shelling of a South Korean island on Tuesday, among the most outrageous of its provocations since the end of the Korean War, shows that the region must be at the top of the diplomatic priority list.
WORLD
January 8, 2014 | By Julie Makinen
BEIJING - Dennis Rodman helped Kim Jong Un mark his 31st birthday Wednesday with sport and song, serenading the North Korean dictator with a warbly rendition of “Happy Birthday” in a Pyongyang gymnasium and then leading fellow ex-NBA players in a game against a local squad. Spectators were not allowed to bring cameras into the modestly appointed arena, but video posted later online showed Rodman in sunglasses leading the crowd - many of them in sport coats and dress shirts - in a singing tribute to “The Marshal.” Then the Americans, in blue and white uniforms, faced off against the North Koreans, or the “Torch Team,” in red. Simon Cockerell, a tour guide with Beijing-based Koryo tours who is traveling with Rodman's group, described the event as a “bizarre and unusual occasion.” In a video dispatch from Pyongyang posted to Koryo's Facebook page, he said the teams played two 10-minute halves, with the North Koreans prevailing at the final buzzer (by a score of 47-39, according to Associated Press)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2013 | By Stephen Ceasar and Barbara Demick
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old war veteran who was held prisoner in North Korea for six weeks, was greeted by his wife and son when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday following his release. "It's been a great homecoming," Newman told reporters, with his wife, Lee, and son, Jeffrey, standing by his side. "I'm tired - but I'm with my family now. " Asked what he planned to do once he got home to Palo Alto, Newman quipped: "Probably take my shoes off. " Newman's flight from Beijing landed about 9 a.m., the San Jose Mercury News reported.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2013 | By Hector Becerra, This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old war veteran held prisoner in North Korea for the last six weeks, arrived back in California on Saturday, a day after being freed, to the relief of his family. [Updated at 9:10 a.m. PDT Dec. 7: Newman, of Palo Alto, arrived at San Francisco Airport mid-morning on a United Airlines flight.] Newman's son, standing outside his home in Pasadena late Friday, thanked those who helped with and prayed for his father's release . "This is a great moment for us as a family, and it will be even better when we have a chance to be back together in a few hours," Jeffrey Newman said.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2013 | By Stephen Ceasar
Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old Korean War veteran who was arrested in October while visiting North Korea, was greeted by his wife and son when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday after being released following 42 days in custody. “It's been a great homecoming,” Merrill told reporters, with his wife Lee and son Jeffrey standing by his side. “I'm tired -- but I'm with my family now.” Asked what he planned to do once he got home to Palo Alto, Newman quipped: "Probably take my shoes off. " Newman's flight from Beijing landed at about 9 a.m., the San Jose Mercury News reported . A retired tech executive, Newman was pulled off an airplane about to leave the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Oct. 26 at the end of a 10-day tour, after speaking to his guides there about his service in a clandestine anti-communist army unit during the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korean officials released a video confession in which Newman said he had been trying to contact survivors from his military unit and their families.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 6, 2013 | By Hector Becerra
Standing outside his home in Pasadena late Friday, the son of Merrill Newman, an 85-year-old war veteran turned North Korean prisoner, thanked those who helped and prayed for his father's release , announced earlier in the day. A retired tech executive, Newman was pulled off an airplane about to leave the North Korean capital of Pyongyang on Oct. 26 at the end of a 10-day tour, after speaking to his guides there about his service in a...
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Sheri Linden
K-pop star Choi Seung-hyun (a.k.a. T.O.P.) is convincing as a sensitive kid who becomes a trained assassin in "Commitment," a spy drama with a romantic heart. Boilerplate shootouts and conflagrations get the better of the movie's second half, but for the most part, first-time director Park Hong-soo strikes the right balance between take-no-prisoners espionage and teenage angst. Set in 2011, screenwriter Kim Soo-young's story spins, somewhat clunkily, around a vaguely defined network of warring sleeper cells from the North operating in Seoul; detectives helpfully point out Kim Jong-il's declining health and the factions' power plays.
WORLD
June 28, 2008 | Barbara Demick, Times Staff Writer
With a flash of explosives, North Korea on Friday demolished the cooling tower for its main nuclear reactor, the concrete shell vanishing into a cloud of smoke and dust aimed at showing that the authoritarian country is sincere about dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Televising the demolition of the conical 60-foot-tall tower had been suggested by North Korea, whose leader, Kim Jong Il, is a cinema buff famous for his flare for the theatrical. It came a day after President Bush met a North Korean declaration about its nuclear program with an announcement that he would remove the Pyongyang government from the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors and lift other sanctions.
WORLD
November 29, 2013 | By Barbara Demick
BEIJING -- North Korea said Saturday the 85-year-old Korean War veteran from Palo Alto it detained last month was held because of “hostile acts” against the Communist regime during the war and during his 10-day trip as a tourist. Pyongyang's official news agency also published what it said was a letter of apology from the retiree, Merrill Newman, and added that the North Koreans had accepted his apology -- implying that he might soon be released. The statements said Newman had directed anti-Communist guerrillas during the 1950-53 war and had asked his North Korean guides during his October trip for help getting in touch with any survivors or their families still living in North Korea.
WORLD
November 20, 2013 | By Barbara Demick
BEIJING - An 85-year-old tourist from Palo Alto was buckled in his seat last month on a plane preparing to depart Pyongyang, North Korea, when a flight attendant pointed him out to two men in uniform. They promptly escorted him off the plane. The man, Merrill Newman, a retired financial executive and Korean War veteran, has not been heard from since. Newman was seized Oct. 26 at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport, but the case was initially kept secret at the urging of his family.
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