The timing is widely interpreted in South Korea as a dividend of Chinese pressure to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula – and the meeting this week between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
South Korea’s main concern appears to be that Obama does not acquiesce to Hu’s call for six-party talks without the South’s full agreement – and without concessions on the part of North Korea.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Seoul Friday for a meeting with South Korean President Lee, who stressed the need for US cooperation to solve the North Korean nuclear issue.
Japan's Coast Guard said Thursday that it had arrested a captain of a South Korean fishing boat after it refused to stop for inspection near rocky islets long claimed by both countries.
If signed, two proposed military cooperation agreements to deal with North Korea would be the first such agreements between the two nations since Japan’s occupation of Korea in the early 20th century.
US envoy Stephen Bosworth ended a tour to northeast Asian capitals Friday without any definitive response to North Korea's offer for talks without preconditions. Japan and South Korea rejected the proposal.
US envoy Stephen Bosworth arrives in Tokyo Thursday after visiting Seoul and Beijing. Implicit in his talks is a push for Japan and South Korea to cooperate for mutual defense against North Korea.
US envoy Stephen Bosworth and South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator appear to be pressing for greater North-South dialogue before returning to the six-party talks.
Analysts in South Korea believe President Lee’s surprise call for six-party talks will bring the parties to the table since China and North Korea have both been calling in recent weeks for resumption of talks.
South Korea's statement that it intends this year to begin preparations to reunify the Koreas will likely irk China and the North, which could consider it a provocation.
South Korea's Institute for National Security Strategy warned this weekend of increasing 'unexpected moves' as North Korea's military 'scrambles to display its loyalty' to heir apparent, Kim Jong-un.
North Korea appears poised to display its nuclear weapons capability with an underground test, say experts, in a bid to keep military tensions high and force a return to talks.
Some visitors to South Korea's Aegibong Peak, where a Christmas tree stands 100 feet tall, are skeptical it sends a message of peace. North Korea has denounced the war games and the tree as 'provocations.'
South Korea launched a planned round of multi-day military exercises Wednesday, while rebuffing the North's recent conciliatory gestures.
South Koreans erected a huge Christmas tree that can reportedly be seen from the North's side of the demilitarized zone. But a sense of brotherhood has been sharply strained by the North's recent attack.
US envoy Bill Richardson said its offer to allow nuclear inspections was a 'step in the right direction.' But the US and the South note a 'string of broken promises.'
On Yeonpyeong Island and on the streets of Seoul, South Koreans say that North Korea is hoping to portray itself as a voice of reason by not responding to South Korea's artillery drills Monday.
North Korea had threatened a harsh response if South Korea went ahead with military exercises in disputed waters Monday. But it could still take action, experts say.
Even the plucky few residents who returned after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells at Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23 are fleeing ahead of South Korea's live-fire drills this week.
North Korea and South Korea have both raised the stakes in a Yellow Sea confrontation, with each side wanting to save face.
North Korea sees South Korea's plans to conduct a live-fire artillery drill this weekend as "needlessly provocative," but the US insists it is normal and necessary.
Top US officials appear to be pressing China to do more to rein in North Korean aggression. Meanwhile, the South held a major civil defense drill Wednesday.
China's highest-ranking foreign affairs official went to Pyongyang on Thursday, just after US Adm. Mike Mullen visited Japan and South Korea.
In South Korea, public support for cutting aid to North Korea has nearly doubled in the wake of the North's Nov. 23 attack on Yeonpyeong Island, a new study shows.
The US was hoping that China, the only country with diplomatic influence over North Korea, would rebuke the country for shelling South Korea last month. But China appears intent on maintaining support for Kim Jong Il.