north korea

South Korea President Lee Myung-bak issued a strongly worded declaration Monday of retaliatory measures against North Korea for torpedoing the navy ship Cheonan. The question now: How will North Korea respond?

"To release the outcome of the investigation is easy," says Kim Tae-woo, senior North Korea analyst at the Korea Institute. "What to do after that is the most difficult part." Seoul is now likely to seek international action, perhaps by asking for tougher sanctions on North Korea from the United Nations Security Council.

Kim Jong Il's recent visit to China was a gentle reminder that the road to Pyongyang leads through Beijing. China is the only power that has remained engaged with North Korea, through many ups and downs, whereas Russia, Japan, the United States and South Korea have all come and gone.

Two baby elephants intended as a gift to North Korea are unlikely to survive the journey by air, Zimbabwean conservationists said Thursday...The independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the 18-month-old elephants were being held in pens in the western Hwange National Park, along with pairs of most of the park's other animal species bound for North Korea.

If suspicions are proven correct, there are few good policy options available for a response. There is no sense in South Korea retaliating with military force since the costs far outweigh the possible benefits.

Mr. Kim habitually travels by train and his visits are generally not confirmed until he has returned to North Korea. He is not believed to have been abroad since a 2006 visit to China. China is North Korea's main trading partner and the country perceived to have the most influence on the communist state.

You would have to believe in miracles to think that North Korea would ever give up its nuclear weapons program. That’s the view of a distinguished professor from China who talks with an air of authority that seems to reflect an insider’s understanding of what’s really going on in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

While a visit to the reclusive Democratic People's Republic of Korea is next to impossible for most, Pyongyang offers casual diners a window into Kingdom Kim, an elaborate combination of food and culture from north of the 38th parallel.