Elise Hu

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Around the world, the flurry of diplomatic efforts to salvage the June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has dominated headlines. But there's one place where it hasn't: North Korea itself.

A North Korean envoy, Kim Yong Chol, met this week with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York, but North Koreans are seeing none of that in their regular 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. national broadcasts.

Updated 2:55 a.m. ET Sunday

Hours after a surprise meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas aimed at shoring up diplomacy, President Trump seemed to keep hope alive for a summit with Kim Jong Un to go ahead as planned on June 12 in Singapore.

Speaking at the White House Saturday evening, Trump said plans for the summit were "going along very well." He said meetings were ongoing and that the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula "would be a great thing for North Korea."

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

To get a sense of how today's announcement is playing in South Korea, let's turn now to NPR's Elise Hu in Seoul. Hi, Elise.

ELISE HU, BYLINE: Hey there, Ari.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, it looks like the summit is now off. President Trump has canceled his proposed meeting with the leader of North Korea. This announcement came on the same morning that North Korea made a very public showing destroying a very important nuclear test site.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday

North Korea said it is canceling high-level talks with South Korea planned for Wednesday at their shared border area because of ongoing military exercises between the South and the United States.

The talks were scheduled for Seoul and Pyongyang to follow up on the agreement struck by the two Korean leaders at their historic summit last month.

Congratulated for an apparent breakthrough in relations between South Korea and North Korea, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, "It's President Trump who should receive the Nobel Prize."

Updated at 5:05 a.m. ET

Following a historic meeting between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the leaders appeared side by side to make an extraordinary announcement: The two nations — technically in a state of war for more than six decades — would work toward a permanent peace treaty and the elimination of nuclear weapons from the peninsula.

South Koreans have painstakingly planned out the details ahead of North Korea's Kim Jong Un and South Korea's Moon Jae-in's summit at their shared border Friday, the culmination of a flurry of diplomacy over the past few months.

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A court in Seoul has found former South Korean President Park Geun-hye guilty on a raft of charges in the sprawling corruption case that led to her impeachment.

She has been sentenced to 24 years in prison — effectively a life sentence for the 66-year-old. Park was also fined nearly $17 million.

When it comes to inter-Korean relations, pop music — and politics — work in concert. North Korea sent a musical delegation to South Korea for the Winter Olympics last month.

Now it's the other side's turn. South Korean solo singers and group acts will head north this weekend for the first time in more than a decade.

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a dinner to welcome delegates from South Korea on Monday, in a visit Seoul hopes will pave the way for talks between North Korea and the United States.

The 10-member delegation includes a top national security adviser and spy chief — marking the first time South Korean officials are reported to have met the North Korean leader since he took power in 2011.

When it comes to global politics off the rink — most of the spotlight has fallen on North and South Korea. But just as the two Koreas have been making nice, South Korea and Japan have gotten chilly.

On the ice — Nao Kodaira of Japan and two-time gold medalist Lee Sang-hwa of Korea are the world's best at the 500 meter speed skate. They have finished within fractions of a second of each other for years and are constantly compared to one another. Sunday's much-watched showdown between the two was packed with extra meaning because their countries compete so fiercely, too.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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The Winter Olympics in South Korea will be a chance for the country to show off its newest robot creations. NPR's Elise Hu reports that the peek into the future starts as soon as you land at the airport.

In Gangnam, the upscale Seoul district south of the Han River bisecting the city, one of the area's biggest industries is evident on people's faces: On the streets, patients are wearing nose guards and bandages, fresh from facial fix-ups. High-rises soar with a cosmetic surgery clinic on every floor, and in the subway stations, floor-to-ceiling advertisements feature images of women's uniformly wide-eyed, youthful faces — all with the message that you, too, can look this way if you go to the right clinic.

At least 37 people are dead and dozens injured following a Friday morning fire that broke out in a hospital emergency room in Miryang, a town in southeastern South Korea.

Administrators at Sejong Hospital, the fire site, said one doctor, one nurse and one nurse's assistant were among the casualties. He further said that some 80 percent of the fatalities were elderly patients.

"I am truly sorry. I am sorry for the patients and their caretakers," said Seok Jeong-sik, the director of Sejong Hospital.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Stopping North Korea's nuclear program is the thorniest foreign policy problem for the U.S. president in the new year, but then again, the same was true a year ago. What has changed in 2017 is North Korea's capability and the United States' approach.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is ready to talk about talking to North Korea.

"We're ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk. And we're ready to have the first meeting without precondition," he said, in remarks Tuesday at the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

We hear this story again and again, but each time, it's just a little bit worse. North Korea tested a missile, and this time it appeared to have the longest range yet.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This month diners in Toronto were treated to a four-course meal at a pop-up restaurant called June's. The menu included Northern Thai leek and potato soup with a hint of curry, a pasta served with smoked arctic char followed by garlic rapini and flank steak. The entire meal was topped off with a boozy tiramisu for dessert.

In addition to a mouthwatering meal, the chefs at June's also served a message which they wore on their shirts: "Break bread. Smash stigma."

When a municipal lawmaker, Yuka Ogata, brought her 7-month-old baby to her job in a male-dominated legislature, she was met with such surprise and consternation by her male colleagues that eventually, she and the baby were asked to leave. Officials of the Kumamoto Municipal Assembly, of which she's a member, said although there's no rule prohibiting infants, they booted her citing a rule that visitors are forbidden from the floor.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition now has a two-thirds supermajority in the parliament. That's after capturing more than 300 of the 465 seats in Japan's lower house that were up for grabs on Sunday.

Japanese voters have just days left to decide who they will support in a snap general election set for Sunday.

Japanese politics are usually tame. But this time around, the charismatic governor of Tokyo is adding unexpected elements to the race.

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