A US destroyer forced back a North Korean freighter ship that was possibly on its way through the South China Sea to Burma (Myanmar) with military cargo. It is not clear if the cargo was nuclear or conventional weaponry.
North Korea has taken control of Mt. Kumgang, a jointly maintained tourist area in which South Korea's Hyundai Asan had invested more than $1.5 billion for a hotel, hot springs, shopping mall, and a road inside the North.
The US and South Korean deployment of new vehicles and robots for defense against nuclear weaponry reflects fears that North Korea, in a leadership struggle and desperate for food, might be tempted to use them.
Kim Jong-il’s different birthday celebrations in North and South Korea dramatize current tensions. For the first time the South's President Lee openly supported groups lofting balloons northward with leaflets bearing insulting messages.
After walking out of a meeting meant as a preliminary step toward six-party nuclear talks, some worry North Korea may stage another nuclear test. Its first test came during a break in six-party talks in 2006.
South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday he has 'high hopes for a change in attitude' from North Korea and implied that South Korea might consider significant aid for the North’s dilapidated economy.
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.