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.

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.

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

Transcript

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

North Korea is a mysterious place — even to South Koreans. Curiosity about life in the north has sparked a slew of new South Korean TV shows.

There is the Amazing Race-type program, in which North Korean women are paired up with South Korean men to take on various challenges, like trudging through mud carrying a bucket of water on their heads.

North Korean state media said Friday that the country has detained a U.S. student from the University of Virginia for "anti-republic activities."

The state-run agency, KCNA, said the student, Otto Frederick Warmbier, entered North Korea as a tourist but "with a goal to wreck the foundation of state unity ... under the manipulation of the U.S. government."

The U.S. Embassy in Seoul said it was aware of the report.

The University of Virginia's website lists an undergraduate with that name at the McIntire School of Commerce, the university's business school.

North Korea announced on state television that it tested its first hydrogen bomb. The announcement followed a magnitude 5.1 earthquake that shook near the rogue nation's nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, at 10 a.m. local time.

The hydrogen bomb test was "an act of self defense" against foreign threats, the announcement from the North said. "We've joined the rank of nations with nuclear weapons. We won't use the nuclear weapon as long as there's no invasion of our autonomy."

Fast-rising mobile technology has made buying stuff with a tap of an app easier than ever and shifted the way we shop. What were once permanent, brick-and-mortar stores, where shoppers look at items in a physical space, are now often pop-ups first — shops that last for a limited time only.

Pop-up shops are temporary retail spaces that spring up in unused premises. Leases can last as short as a single day, when brands use the spaces for a promotional event instead of testing out a market.

The South Korean labor leader holed up in a Buddhist temple to avoid arrest has turned himself in on charges of organizing illegal rallies, ending a 24-day standoff with police. Officers had planned to raid Seoul's top temple, Jogyesa, on Wednesday afternoon, but postponed a move to forcefully enter the temple after negotiations with the head of the Buddhist Jogye order.

The presidents of China and Taiwan are scheduled to meet on Saturday, the only such meeting since the civil war ended in 1949.

The meeting will take place in Singapore. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou will discuss how to improve relations but Taiwan says no agreements are expected.

In the South Korean capital, an independent business owned by local artists is taking on Korea's arguably most famous celebrity — the entertainer and musician PSY. The real estate rift is representative of a fast-changing, modern Seoul, where skyrocketing rents in up-and-coming neighborhoods are forcing out longtime tenants and raising concerns about gentrification.

At issue is a cafe and artist residency in Seoul's Hannamdong neighborhood.

North Korea has returned a New York University student and South Korean national who had been detained in Pyongyang since April.

21-year-old Joo Won-moon was in North Korean custody after he crossed the border from China into North Korea, hoping to help strengthen ties between the two Koreas.

"I thought some great event could happen and hopefully that event could have a good effect in the relationship between the North and the South," Joo told CNN in an interview in May.

This summer, NPR is getting crafty in the kitchen. As part of Weekend Edition's Do Try This At Home series, top chefs are sharing their cleverest hacks and tips — taking expensive, exhausting or intimidating recipes and tweaking them to work in any home kitchen.

This week: We go to Seoul, South Korea, to make banchan — those endless small plates of pickles and veggies that traditionally accompany rice or soup.

More than 3,400 people are now under quarantine in South Korea's fight to contain an outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome — a deadly virus that can cause severe pneumonia and organ failure.

So far, South Korea has reported 122 MERS cases. And the government is actively tracking the whereabouts of people possibly exposed to the virus.

Chung-ahm is a Buddhist monk who's quarantined in the Jangduk village in southern South Korea.

More than a thousand schools are shut down in South Korea, a response to rising fears over MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome. The virus has now infected 41 people, of whom four have died, since the South Korean outbreak began May 20th, and it's exposing widespread distrust among South Koreans that their leaders can adequately handle the crisis.

More than 1,300 people in South Korea are under mandatory quarantine as health officials scramble to contain the largest outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, outside the Arabian Peninsula. So far, at least 30 people in South Korea have contracted the virus, which has no known vaccine or cure. Two of them have died since the outbreak began May 20.

South Korea is contending with the biggest Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, outbreak outside the Middle East.

A deadly virus with no known cure — Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS — has infected 13 people in South Korea since mid-May. The fast spread of the disease, from the first case confirmed on May 20 to more than a dozen by Saturday, is prompting criticism of health officials for not moving faster to quarantine suspected patients.

The much-publicized peace walk across the inter-Korean border was really a bus ride. South Korean immigration officials insisted that a group of 30 international women, including American feminist pioneer Gloria Steinem and two Nobel Prize laureates, take a ride across the border for their own safety.

Still, Steinem said, just getting agreement to cross at all — from two nations still technically at war — counts as a win.

"It was an enormous, enormous triumph," Steinem said, after crossing into the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone.

Former Korean Air executive Cho Hyun-ah, or Heather Cho, is out of prison after a four-month stay. If her name and alias don't ring a bell for you, the reason why she was jailed might.

Given the always-present tensions in this region, it's no surprise that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Seoul on Monday was all about security.

"We are not seeking conflict, we are seeking a peaceful resolution of the differences that still exist after so many years on the peninsula," Kerry said.

Just days after grabbing international attention for reportedly testing a submarine-fired ballistic missile, North Korea executed its defense chief on the order of dictator Kim Jong Un. That's according to South Korea's spy agency, which briefed Seoul's lawmakers on the development Wednesday.

Pages