Elise Hu

Elise Hu is an award-winning correspondent assigned to NPR's newest international bureau, in Seoul, South Korea. She's responsible for covering geopolitics, business and life in both Koreas and Japan. She previously covered the intersection of technology and culture for the network's on-air, online and multimedia platforms.

Hu joined NPR in 2011 to coordinate the digital development and editorial vision for the StateImpact network, a state government reporting project focused on member stations.

Before joining NPR, she was one of the founding reporters at The Texas Tribune, a non-profit digital news startup devoted to politics and public policy. While at the Tribune, Hu oversaw television partnerships and multimedia projects; contributed to The New York Times' expanded Texas coverage and pushed for editorial innovation across platforms.

An honors graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Journalism, she previously worked as the state political reporter for KVUE-TV in Austin, WYFF-TV in Greenville, SC, and reported from Asia for the Taipei Times.

Her work has earned a Gannett Foundation Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism, a National Edward R. Murrow award for best online video, beat reporting awards from the Texas Associated Press and The Austin Chronicle once dubiously named her the "Best TV Reporter Who Can Write."

Outside of work, Hu has taught digital journalism at Northwestern University and Georgetown University's journalism schools and serves as a guest co-host for TWIT.tv's program, Tech News Today. She's also an adviser to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where she keeps up with emerging media and technology as a panelist for the Knight News Challenge.

Elise Hu can be reached by e-mail at ehu (at) npr (dot) org as well as via the social media links, above.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's inaugural trip to East Asia was marred by misunderstandings that arguably could have been avoided had Tillerson followed decades-old practice and spoken for himself — to the State Department press corps aboard his plane.

But there was no State Department press corps aboard his plane.

Tillerson had one reporter along — from a conservative-leaning news site who does not cover the State Department. In another break with tradition, the reporter did not offer a pool report to colleagues on the ground.

The effect?

Updated 2:10 a.m. ET

The rather swift downfall of South Korea's first female president is complete. A panel of judges has ruled unanimously that a December impeachment by lawmakers should be upheld, immediately ousting President Park Geun-hye from office.

South Korea's military says North Korea has test-fired a handful of "unknown projectiles" off its west coast into its east coast waters, further rattling an already uncertain situation on the Korean peninsula under ongoing political drift in Seoul and a new American administration.

Malaysian authorities say initial autopsy results show a chemical weapon — VX nerve agent — was used in the fatal poisoning of Kim Jong Nam, older half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.

VX is an odorless substance that can exist as liquid or gas. It can kill within minutes if it's passed through the skin. It is 10 times more toxic than sarin and classified as a weapon of mass destruction.

South Korea's government says it's convinced the North Korean regime orchestrated the bizarre poisoning death of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"We are observing this pointless and merciless incident with grave concern," the South Korean Unification Ministry said in a statement Sunday.

Updated 11:25 p.m. ET

Malaysian police say they have arrested a second woman in connection with the killing of the North Korean leader's half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. She is 25 years old and a holder of an Indonesian passport. They say she was identified from surveillance TV footage of the airport. Earlier, authorities said they had detained another woman in the death.

South Korean defense officials and the U.S. Strategic Command say North Korea test-fired a "medium- or intermediate-range" ballistic missile early Sunday morning local time, which flew eastward for about 300 miles from the west coast of North Korea, over the peninsula and landed in the Sea of Japan. This marks the first missile test by the Kim Jong Un regime since October, and the first during the new Donald Trump presidency.

Samsung announced the results of a months-long investigation into why its Galaxy Note 7 phones spontaneously caught fire last summer, pinning the blame on faulty batteries.

The bungled launch led to a recall of 2.5 million devices and losses totaling more than $2 billion. The root cause, according to an internal investigation conducted with the help of outside experts, was battery short circuits.

South Korean judges Thursday denied a request by prosecutors to arrest Jay Y. Lee, the de facto leader of the sprawling Samsung conglomerate, saying there wasn't enough evidence to detain him on bribery charges. Lee is ensnared in South Korea's largest political corruption scandal to date, involving people at the highest levels of business and government.

"We appreciate the fact that the merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention," Samsung said, in a statement issued after the early morning decision.

Prosecutors in South Korea have requested an arrest warrant for the de facto head of the nation's biggest conglomerate, Samsung, on charges of bribery and embezzlement in connection with a swirling scandal that led to the president's impeachment.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

South Korean lawmakers voted 234-56 on Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye. A constitutional court will now decide whether to remove from office the country's first female leader, who's been mired in a corruption scandal that has paralyzed the country's political system.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye — facing demands for her ouster because of a corruption scandal — announced she is willing to shorten her term at the discretion of the National Assembly and "step down afterwards," throwing an already tumultuous political situation here into more confusion.

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans from across the country crammed into the major thoroughfare of central Seoul on Saturday, in an organized and peaceful protest against the embattled president, Park Geun-hye.

The crowd of at least 500,000 people, according to Reuters, held candles and signs reading "Resign," sang pop songs and patriotic numbers, and marched together toward the Blue House, the presidential home and office complex.

"It's an explosion of their feelings," demonstrator Jinwon Kim says of the crowds. "People are very angry."

Tens of thousands demonstrated in cities across South Korea on Saturday, demanding President Park Geun-hye step down from office. Her approval rating has hit an unprecedented low of 14 percent and Park's ordered all 10 of her senior aides to resign, following revelations an unelected, unappointed confidant was receiving advance copies and altering dozens of confidential policy speeches. They have led to charges that the friend is a secret "puppet master" and the real power behind "the throne."

Cup Noodles, the dorm-room staple that cooks in three minutes, turns 45 this month. There's no better place to celebrate than its very own museum in Yokohama, Japan.

"This is the museum that really honors the creator of instant ramen and Cup Noodles," says museum manager Yuya Ichikawa, who leads me on a tour.

Updated 11:15 a.m. ET

North Korea confirmed it has conducted its fifth test of a nuclear weapon, the second this year. The test occurred Friday morning local time and triggered a magnitude 5.3 seismic event.

The North's state TV said the test "examined and confirmed" the design of a nuclear warhead intended for placement on a ballistic missile. It said there was no leakage of radioactivity. China's Ministry of Environmental Protection said radiation levels in its border region with North Korea were normal.

Recently inaugurated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is "expressing regret" for his comments at a fiery press conference, in which he called President Obama a "son of a bitch" or "son of a whore" (depending on how you translate the Tagalog) and threatened to swear at him in a planned bilateral meeting.

The White House canceled the meeting shortly after Duterte's comments.

"We ... regret [the remarks] came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president," Duterte's office said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Japan's emperor is hinting he wants to leave the Chrysanthemum Throne. 82-year-old Emperor Akihito gave a rare televised address Monday — only his second in history — in which he reflected on his advancing age, the tough daily schedule of his ceremonial post and the toll it was taking on his health.

Packing your child's lunch calls for a whole different level of preparation in Japan. There, moms often shape ordinary lunch ingredients like ham or rice into cute little pandas, Pokemon or even famous people's faces. It's called character bento, and there's considerable pressure to produce these cute food creations.

Tomomi Maruo has been teaching how to make character bentos, or "kyaraben" for short — at her home for the past 13 years.

This is a developing story. Last updated 6:18 a.m. ET.

Snipers shot and killed five Dallas law enforcement officers and injured another six at the end of a rally in downtown Dallas, where hundreds were protesting police shootings that happened in other parts of the country earlier this week.

Four of the officers worked for Dallas Police; the fifth was identified as 43-year-old transit officer Brent Thompson, of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, or DART.

North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the latest in a string of launches that defy a United Nations ban. South Korea's Defense Ministry says the first missile failed not long after it was launched from Wonsan, on North Korea's east coast. The second appears to have flown a distance of 250 miles and reached an altitude of 620 miles before falling into the Sea of Japan, South Korea says.

There's a summer camp on every theme these days, even North Korea. South Korea's twist on extracurricular enrichment is called Unification Leaders Camp, and it's a government-sponsored getaway dedicated to schooling South Korean youngsters about their neighbors to the north.

"Seventy-one years ago, on a bright, cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed," President Obama said Friday, in the first visit by a sitting U.S. president to Hiroshima, Japan.

In 1945, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb used in warfare on that city, killing an estimated 140,000 people. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Within weeks, Japan surrendered, ending the war in the Pacific Theater.

A North Korean military intelligence officer has defected to South Korea, the South's Unification Ministry announced on Monday. While declining to give details, ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee confirmed the man is a colonel and called the defection "meaningful." He is believed to be one of the highest-ranking North Koreans to defect to the South.

Jeong said the defection could be read as a sign of fissure at the top levels of North Korea's regime.

North Korea fired a pair of medium-range ballistic missiles from its east coast into the Sea of Japan at about 6 a.m. local time, according to South Korea's military. The first missile flew about 500 miles.

This follows the launch of two short-range missiles last week. A senior defense department official says neither missile was a threat to the U.S. or regional allies, but that the launches violate multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

What started out as a budget tour to Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, has stretched into an extended stay for 21-year-old University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier. State media reported Wednesday that North Korea's highest court convicted Warmbier of subversion and sentenced him to 15 years of prison and hard labor.

The offense? According to an apparent confession, Warmbier tried to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel.

The five-game clash pitting man against machine is over, with Google's artificial intelligence program winning the series.The program — called AlphaGo — took four of five games against Korean Lee Sedol, an 18-time world champion of the board game Go.

"I feel a little regrettable because I believe that there is more that a human being could have shown in a match against artificial intelligence," Lee said following the final match.

As the international community grapples with how best to stymie North Korea's nuclear development, South Korea is making one move on its own. It's shutting down the last remaining vestige of inter-Korean cooperation, the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

The special zone, located north of the border just six miles inside of North Korea, employs an estimated 55,000 North Koreans. South Korea's government and industries pay to operate the park. A total of 124 South Korean companies run businesses and factories there, mostly making goods like shoes and clothing.

Rescue efforts continue in southern Taiwan, three days after a powerful magnitude-6.4 earthquake shook the island and killed more than three dozen people. But hopes of finding survivors were fading. Early Monday, more than 100 people were still unaccounted for from the Golden Dragon apartment complex, the center of most rescue efforts.

This weekend, there were countless stories of death — and life.

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