Anthony Kuhn

Kim Jong Un began a military parade in Pyongyang on Saturday with what was an unprovocative speech without any mention of the United States. But then, the North Korean leader displayed what appeared to be several new strategic weapons, including some that could potentially hit the U.S. mainland.

In a meeting with foreign ministers from Japan, India and Australia in Tokyo, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged on Tuesday that they strengthen their quartet of democracies to resist an increasingly assertive China.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent a message to President Trump on Friday, wishing him and first lady Melania Trump a "swift recovery" after they tested positive for the coronavirus. "We'd also like to send special words of solace and encouragement to your family and U.S. citizens," Moon wrote.

Among South Korea's neighbors, there was little other immediate official reaction to the news that President Trump tested positive for coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said he was sorry for the shooting death of a South Korean fisheries official Tuesday in waters near the two countries' maritime border — remarks that suggested a temporary halt to the downward spiral in relations between the two Koreas during a year marked by missile tests and harsh rhetoric from Pyongyang.

Yoshihide Suga took over Wednesday as Japan's first new prime minister in almost eight years, replacing the country's longest-serving premier, Shinzo Abe, who stepped down citing health concerns.

Suga, 71, was sworn in by Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace after parliament elected him as prime minister.

Suga was Abe's chief Cabinet secretary and head government spokesman. Now he pledges to forge ahead with his predecessor's key policies, including his efforts to jump-start the economy and to revise Japan's postwar constitution, which restricts the use of its military.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

A decade ago, building cleaner Noh Il-soon was in the market for a new church. She had previously moved within Seoul, and when she did, she looked for a local congregation to join.

A missionary introduced her to a Presbyterian church called Sarang Jeil, Korean for "love comes first." Noh says she was immediately captivated by the sermons of the charismatic pastor, Jun Kwang-hoon.

Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, announced in a press conference Thursday that he is stepping down because of poor health.

Abe, 65, has been in office since 2012. He also served as prime minister for one year beginning in 2006, also citing health as the reason for his resignation. Abe's longevity is noteworthy in a country that sees frequent turnover in its leadership.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

After keeping the coronavirus under control for roughly five months, South Korea finds itself on the verge of another major outbreak as COVID-19 cases jump to their highest level since March and the capital region retightens social distancing guidelines.

Updated at 11:30 a.m. ET

To the accompaniment of jangly guitars, a woman wearing glasses, short hair and a red overcoat shows off the landmarks of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. "Every building in Pyongyang is going through general cleaning to shake off winter dust," she says in English in a recent YouTube video.

"Rip apart the defectors, the traitors and the human trash," demonstrators wearing masks and standing in neat rows shouted at a rally in Nampo, North Korea, last month, state media reported.

Similar demonstrations took place around the country last month, aiming to signal dismay at South Korea for allowing defectors to send propaganda leaflets, often floated on balloons, over the border to criticize North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The mayor of South Korea's capital, and a possible future presidential candidate, was found dead after disappearing Thursday morning local time.

A rescue dog found Park Won-soon just after midnight Friday morning in a wooded park northeast of the presidential office, Seoul police official Choi Ik-su told reporters about two hours after the discovery.

Choi said the cause of death is under investigation, but there is no evidence of homicide so far.

South Korea has acknowledged it is permanently keeping data on patients from a previous virus epidemic, worrying privacy advocates that the government is sidestepping legal safeguards protecting personal information.

While many Americans refer to the Korean War as the "forgotten war," it is anything but that in South Korea 70 years after North Korea invaded.

The war lasted from 1950 to 1953 but never formally ended, and tensions between North and South Korea continue to ebb and flow.

Survivors of one little-known group of combatants say they still want proper recognition. They are the former child soldiers.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

North Korea has pledged to redeploy troops into demilitarized areas near its border with South Korea, a day after it blew up a liaison office in a provocation that has markedly increased tensions between the two arch-rivals.

North Korea blew up its joint liaison office with South Korea on Tuesday, in a dramatic and carefully planned display of rancor toward its southern neighbor. The act follows threats from Pyongyang and signals what experts believe will be more provocations to come.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean ties, confirmed that the liaison office was destroyed by a blast shortly before 3:00 p.m. local time. The office was established in 2018 in the Kaesong Industrial Zone, just north of the Demilitarized Zone.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

For months, South Korea has been praised as a model and a beacon of hope for the world in its desperate fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"Stop the infection from spreading!"

The words appear to come straight from the beak of a creature with a bird's head, human hair and a fish's scaly body, in a recent public service announcement from Japan's health ministry.

In an early demonstration of how a government's response to an epidemic can alter the political landscape, South Korea's ruling, center-left Democratic Party scored a landslide victory in legislative elections Wednesday, largely on the strength of its success in tackling COVID-19.

Elections for South Korean National Assembly typically feature low voter turnout, but this year, the numbers jumped, with roughly two-thirds of eligible voters participating, the highest level in nearly three decades.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is preparing to declare modern Japan's first-ever state of emergency in response to a sudden increase in novel coronavirus cases in the capital, Tokyo, and several of the country's other major cities.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Authorities around the world have issued their own guidelines and rules designed to contain the spread of the coronavirus. And as they've sought to enforce these rules, some efforts have sparked backlash and concerns about privacy.

Wednesday marked the first day of a furlough of roughly half the 9,000-strong Korean workforce staffing U.S. military bases in South Korea. The layoffs without pay — the first in the history of the seven-decade U.S.-South Korea alliance — were forced by an impasse between the two countries on paying for the cost of stationing some 28,500 American troops in South Korea.

Japan's government on Monday resisted calls to declare a national state of emergency, despite a recent spike in confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Tokyo and warnings of further exponential growth.

"It's not true that the government is planning on declaring a state of emergency from April 1," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters, refuting rumors.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally conceded that the COVID-19 epidemic might force the postponement of this summer's Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start four months from now.

Speaking before Parliament, Abe reacted to a Sunday statement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which said that over the next four weeks it would consider alternative scenarios for the Games, including postponement, but not cancellation.

Pages