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North Korea tested two new missiles on July 25, calling this action a “solemn warning” against what it described as “South Korean warmongers”.

The short-range missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, from Wonsan on North Korea’s east coast.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, said his country was forced to develop weapons to “eliminate potential and direct threats”.

Kim Jong-un said the test involved a new tactical guided weapons system.

His comments, reported in state media, come after North Korea criticized a decision by South Korea and the US to hold military drills next month.

North Korea has long regarded the drills as preparation for an invasion.

Though the US and South Korea have refused to cancel the annual military exercises, they have been scaled back significantly.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one of the new missiles traveled about 420 miles. The US also confirmed that the missiles were “short-range”.

Kim Jong-un said he was “satisfied” with the new weapons system’s response and claimed it would “not be easy to defend against”.

The North Korean leader said that South Korea should “not make a mistake of ignoring the warning”.

South Korea has urged the North to stop acts that are unhelpful to easing tension and said the tests posed a military threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed concerns about the launch, however, calling them a negotiating tactic.

He told Bloomberg Television: “Everybody tries to get ready for negotiations and create leverage and create risk for the other side.

“We want diplomacy to work. If it takes another two weeks or four weeks, so be it.”

The test is the first since Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump met at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), an area that divides the two Koreas, on June 30.

Donald Trump Becomes First US Sitting President to Cross into North Korea After Symbolic Meeting with Kim Jong-un at DMZ

North Korea: Kim Jong-un Oversees Short-Range Projectile Tests

The missile launch also comes after anger from North Korea over planned military exercises between South Korea and the US, an annual event. North Korea warned they could affect the resumption of denuclearization talks.

About 29,000 US soldiers are based in South Korea, under a security agreement reached after the war ended in 1953.

In 2018, Kim Jong-un said North Korea would stop nuclear testing and would no longer launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

North Korea also continues to demonstrate its abilities to develop new weapons despite strict economic sanctions. Earlier this week Kim Jong-un inspected a new type of submarine, state media reported, which could be developed to carry ballistic missiles, according to some analysts.

In May, Pyongyang also conducted a similar short-range missile launch, its first such test since its intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017.

President Trump responded then by saying he believed Kim Jong-un would not do anything that could jeopardize his country’s path towards better relations.

Donald Trump tweeted that Kim Jong-un “knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me”.

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North Korea has announced that it successfully tested an engine designed for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

According to the KCNA news agency, the new type of engine would “guarantee” the ability to launch a nuclear strike on the US mainland.

The test was conducted at North Korea’s long-range missile launch site near its west coast.

It is the latest in a series of tests and launches carried out by North Korea.

Kim Jong-un supervised the test, state media report, during which “the engine spewed out huge flames with a deafening boom”.North Korea missile engine

North Korea would now be able to “keep any cesspool of evils in the earth including the US mainland within our striking range,” the country’s leader was quoted as saying.

In response to the latest announcement, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said North Korea should “refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations”.

In March, North Korea said it had developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.

However, experts cast doubt on the claims.

Last month also saw North Korea threaten “indiscriminate” nuclear strikes on the US and South Korea as they held big joint military drills, which the north sees as a rehearsal for an eventual invasion.

Meanwhile, the US imposed new sanctions on North Korea following a nuclear test in January and a satellite launch in February, widely seen as a test of banned missile technology.

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South Korea has accepted an offer from North Korea to hold talks on November 26, Seoul officials have confirmed.

The talks, to be held at the Panmunjom truce village, will set the stage for high-level meetings which were agreed in principle in August.

That deal followed a stand-off in August that began with landmine explosions on the border and involved an exchange of artillery fire.

South Korea said it had sent requests for meetings before but had no response.

North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war because the 1950-1953 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.Korean talks 2015

In August 2015, a landmine explosion at the heavily militarized border seriously injured two South Korean soldiers.

In response, South Korea resumed its abandoned practice of blasting propaganda over the border, and evacuated people from the border region. North Korea said it had put its military on a “war footing”.

Tensions bubbled over in a brief exchange of fire at the heavily guarded border.

After crisis talks, South Korea agreed to turned off the loudspeakers while North Korea agreed to step down its military.

The agreement included a pledge to resume talks on improving ties, and to hold the first reunions for families separated during the Korean War in over a year.

North Korea also expressed regret over the mine explosions, though later clarified it was not accepting responsibility for the blast.

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North Korea has returned the remains of an American soldier missing since the Korean War to his family in California.

Army Cpl. Robert V. Witt of Bellflower was believed captured when his unit was attacked by Chinese forces in late November 1950, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.

Fellow troops later repatriated to the US said Robert Witt died from malnutrition in January 1951.

The US lists more than 8,000 soldiers as missing in the Korean War.

Robert Witt’s remains were found, along with those of other soldiers, in a joint US-North Korea excavation in North Korea in 2000.

Photo Tumblr

Photo Tumblr

However, it took many years since for them to be conclusively identified.

They have now been returned to his sister, 82-year-old Laverne Minnick.

Laverne Minnick told the local newspaper: “I am so happy. He’s going to be home, where he belongs, with his family.”

Robert Witt, 20-years-old when he went missing, will be buried with full military honors in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Los Angeles on October 30.

The Battle of Chosin Reservoir, during which he went missing, was part of a Chinese offensive early in the Korean War that succeeded in driving US and other UN forces out of north eastern Korea.

The Korean War lasted from June 1950 until July 1953 and pitted the US and its allies against the USSR, North Korea and communist China.

At least two million Korean civilians, up to 1.5 million communist forces, and around 30,000 American, 400,000 South Korean and 1,000 UK troops are believed to have died.

A peace treaty has never been signed and the two Koreas would remain technically at war.

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About 250 South Koreans have met relatives in North Korea, in the second of two organized reunions for family members separated by the Korean War.

The South Korean group has been allowed to travel for three days of meetings at Mount Kumgang resort in North Korea.

Another group attended reunions earlier this week.

For most of those attending it is the first time that they have had any contact in over 60 years.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Millions of Korean people ended up separated from loved ones by the physical division of the Korean peninsula.

The reunions taking place this week are only the second round in the past five years.

The South Koreans were chosen using a computerized lottery system from among thousands who applied.

Often accompanied by family members, they traveled in a convoy of buses from South Korea to meet their relatives.

Given their age and the infrequent nature of these reunions, they are unlikely to ever see each other again.

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Four hundred South Koreans are visiting North Korea to meet their North Korean relatives in a rare reunion event for families separated by the Korean War.

The reunion, comprising a series of meetings over a week, is being held at a Mount Kumgang resort, at the border.

Thousands of families have been apart with little or no contact since the Korean War ended in 1953.

Korean family reunions have been held sporadically since 1988 and depend on the state of relations between South Korea and North Korea.

The last reunion was held in February 2014.

This year’s family reunion comes after an agreement in August that de-escalated tensions sparked by a border explosion that injured South Korean soldiers.Korean family reunions

The meetings, organized by the Red Cross, are hugely popular with tens of thousands signing up, but few on each side get chosen and they tend to be elderly.

In South Korea participants are picked at random by a computer which takes into account their age and family background.

They also have to sit for interviews and take medical examinations to determine if they are fit to travel.

The first group of about 400 South Koreans, comprising of chosen participants and their accompanying family members, are taking part in the first round of meetings running from October 20 to October 21, reported Yonhap news agency.

Another 250 will attend the second round of meetings from October 24 to October 26. Each round comprises of six two-hour sessions.

Many of those attending from South Korea are bringing gifts for their North Korean relatives such as clothes, food, toothpaste, and cash.

South Korea and North Korea remain technically at war as the Korean War only ended in an armistice.

The family reunions began in 2000 and have since been carried out sporadically.

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North Korea has declined President Barack Obama’s offer for nuclear negotiations, Reuters reported.

Barack Obama made the statement during a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday, October 16.

The next day, the North Korean Foreign Ministry declined the opportunity to open negotiations, but it again demanded a peace treaty in place of the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.Barack Obama offer for North Korea rejected

The ministry said in a statement: “No issue in which the countries concerned, including the U.S., are interested can be settled unless a peace treaty is concluded before anything else.

“If the U.S. insists on its hostile policy, it will only see the DPRK’s limitless bolstering of nuclear deterrence and the growth of its revolutionary armed forces.”

Barack Obama and Park Geun-hye Friday reaffirmed the strength of their alliance.

Park Geun-hye called the US-South Korea relationship a “lynchpin of peace and stability” for Asia and the Korean Peninsula where tensions have been high in recent months.

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North Korea and South Korea have agreed to hold reunions for families separated by the Korean War, according to Seoul government.

The family reunions will take place in October at the Diamond Mountain resort in North Korea.

The decision follows an agreement last month that de-escalated tensions sparked by a border mine explosion that injured two South Korean soldiers.

Thousands of Korean families have been separated with little or no contact since the war ended in 1953.

The highly emotional reunions of family member who have not seen one another in decades have been infrequent, and depend hugely on the state of relations on the Korean peninsula.Korean family reunion

The reunions, which started in 1988, used to be annual but have often been canceled in recent years as relations frayed. The last round was held in February 2014.

About 66,000 South Koreans remain on the waiting list to see their relatives, many in their 80s and 90s.

The upcoming reunions, slated to be held at the Diamond Mountain resort in Mount Kumgang from October 20 to 26, will see 100 people from each side selected.

The decision came after Red Cross officials from both Koreas held talks earlier this week at the border village of Panmunjom.

Communication between relatives across the border is highly restricted and almost non-existent.

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South Korea and North Korea are conducting talks on organizing a rare reunion for families separated by the Korean War.

The talks are being held at the border village of Panmunjom by Red Cross officials from both sides.

Thousands of Korean families have been separated with little contact made since 1953 when hostilities ended.

The sporadic reunions depend hugely on the state of relations, and North Korea is known to have canceled a few. The last reunion was held in February 2014.Korean family reunion

Each meeting gets deluged by tens of thousands of applications from South Korea, but only a tiny percentage gets selected. The last meeting saw 100 from each side attending, in a hugely emotional event.

The discussions come after a tense few weeks on the Korean peninsula, which saw exchanges of fire at the border and the evacuation of thousands of South Koreans from the border region.

The tensions began when a border landmine injured two South Korean soldiers – South Korea responded by broadcasting propaganda messages into North Korea.

The two sides reached an agreement to defuse the situation after marathon talks.

North Korea, which denied planted the mine, agreed to express “regret” about the incident – though later clarified this was an expression of sympathy not an apology.

South Korea and North Korea remain technically at war as the Korean War only ended in an armistice.

North Korea and South Korea have reached an agreement to defuse tension after recent confrontations.

Seoul has agreed to halt cross-border propaganda broadcasts as part of the deal.

South Korea started the broadcasts after a landmine injured two of its soldiers on the border earlier this month.

Its lead negotiator said the move came after North Korea agreed to express “regret” over the incident.

The agreement came after marathon talks that began after an exchange of fire at the border on August 20.North Korea and South Korea Panmunjon talks

The negotiations in the abandoned “truce village” of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) were said to have ended at 00:55 local time on Tuesday, August 25.

A joint statement said South Korea would stop the loudspeaker broadcasts at midday on August 25 and North Korea would end its “semi-state of war”.

Both countries have also agreed to work towards a resumption of reunions for families separated by the 1950-1953 Korean War.

National security adviser Kim Kwan-jin, who led the negotiations for South Korea, said there would be follow-up talks to discuss a range of issues on improving ties

However, he said it was not the right time to push for a summit between the leaders of the two countries.

South Korea resumed the propaganda broadcasts after an 11-year hiatus earlier this month in apparent retaliation for the landmine incident on August 4 – although North Korea denied having planted the mines.

It also denied shelling South Korea last week – an incident that prompted artillery fire from the South.

Pyongyang ordered its troops to be “on a war footing” on August 21 while Seoul warned that it would “retaliate harshly” to any acts of aggression. About 4,000 residents were also evacuated from border areas in South Korea.

In 2004, the two Koreas reached an agreement to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

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South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye has announced the country’s cross-border propaganda broadcasts will continue until Pyongyang apologizes for landmines that injured two South Korean soldiers.

North Korea has threatened to use force to stop the broadcasts, ratcheting up tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

High-level talks to resolve the issue went through a second night on August 23.

Both Korea’s militaries are on alert after a brief exchange of fire at the border on August 20.

North Korea denies laying the landmines which maimed the soldiers earlier this month as they were patrolling the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the heavily fortified border.

It also denies shelling South Korea on August 20, an incident which prompted return artillery fire from the South.

“We need a clear apology and measures to prevent a recurrence of these provocations and tense situations,” said President Park Geun-hye according to a statement released by her office.

“Otherwise, this government will take appropriate steps and continue loudspeaker broadcasts.”South Korea loudspeaker broadcast

South Korea resumed the propaganda broadcasts along the DMZ earlier this month, after an 11-year hiatus, in apparent retaliation for the landmine attack.

The talks that began on August 22 in the abandoned “truce village” of Panmunjom inside the DMZ have, for the time being, subdued heated rhetoric of imminent war.

South Korea is represented by national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, while the North has sent senior officials Kim Yong-gon and Hwang Pyong-so, who is seen by many analysts as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s second-in-command.

However, South Korea’s military had said that most of North Korea’s submarines appeared to be away from their bases, and amphibious landing vessels had been deployed to the border, the Yonhap news agency reports.

On August 21, North Korea ordered its troops to be “on a war footing”.

South Korea has evacuated almost 4,000 residents from border areas and warned that it would “retaliate harshly” to any acts of aggression.

In 2004, the two Koreas reached an agreement to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

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North Korea and South Korea will hold a second day of top-level talks amid growing tension, South Korean officials say.

The announcement was made after several hours of negotiations on August 22.

Senior aides to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye met at the Panmunjom truce village on the border.

North Korea had threatened “strong military action” if South Korea did not stop border loudspeaker broadcasts that had provoked a “semi-state of war”.

The two sides have agreed to meet again on August 23 to “narrow down differences” as overnight talks were finally wound up after nearly 10 hours of negotiations.

No media organizations were present at the talks, which took place inside the Demilitarized Zone which divides the two Koreas.

South Korea said ahead of the talks that it would be represented by national security adviser Kim Kwan-jin and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, and North Korea would send senior officials Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Yong-gon.

Hwang Pyong-so is seen by many analysts as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s second-in-command.

Photo South Korean Unification Ministry

Photo South Korean Unification Ministry

North Korea had earlier issued a deadline for the dismantling of banks of loudspeakers, which have been blasting news bulletins, weather forecasts and music from the South. It had moved artillery into positions to fire on them.

South Korea has evacuated almost 4,000 residents from border areas and warned that it would “retaliate harshly”.

American and South Korean fighter jets have been flying in formation near the border.

The US’s top military officer has reaffirmed his country’s “unwavering commitment” to South Korea’s defense in a phone call to his South Korean counterpart.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey and South Korea’s Admiral Choi Yoon-hee agreed they would “ensure that the US and [South Korea] continue to work closely with one another to deter further North Korean provocations and defuse tensions,” a Pentagon statement said.

North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war, because the 1950-1953 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

In 2004, the two Koreas reached an agreement to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

The broadcasts were part of a program of psychological warfare, according to South Korean newspaper Korea Times, to deliver outside news so that North Korean soldiers and border-area residents could hear it.

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North Korea and South Korea are planning to hold top-level talks amid growing tension, the South’s presidential office has announced.

Senior aides to Kim Jong-un and President Park Geun-hye will meet at the Panmunjom truce village on the border at 09:00 GMT, the Blue House said.

North Korea had threatened “strong military action” if South Korea did not stop border loudspeaker broadcasts.

Following an exchange of fire on August 20, North Korea declared a “semi-state of war”, state media reported.

South Korea said that it would be represented by national security adviser Kim Kwang-jin and Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo, and North Korea would send senior officials Hwang Pyong-so and Kim Yong-gon.North Korea and South Korea loudspeaker war

North Korea had earlier issued a deadline for the dismantling of banks of loudspeakers, which have been blasting news bulletins, weather forecasts and music from South Korea. It had moved artillery into positions to fire on them.

South Korea has evacuated almost 4,000 residents from border areas and warned that it would “retaliate harshly”.

US and South Korean fighter jets have been flying in formation near the border.

The two Koreas remain technically at war, because the 1950-1953 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

In 2004, South Korea and North Korea reached an agreement to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

The broadcasts were part of a program of psychological warfare, according to South Korean newspaper Korea Times, to deliver outside news so that North Korean soldiers and border-area residents could hear it.

On August 10, South Korea restarted broadcasting in an apparent reaction to two South Korean soldiers being injured in a landmine explosion in the demilitarized zone that was blamed on North Korea.

According to military authorities, days later North Korea also restarted its broadcasting of anti-South propaganda.

However, some reports said that the quality of the North Korean loudspeakers is so bad that it is difficult to understand what they are saying.

South Korea had previously threatened to restart broadcasts in 2010 but although the loudspeakers were reinstalled at that time, they were not put into use, with the South using FM broadcasts into North Korea instead.

Kim Jong-un has ordered the North Korean frontline troops to be on a war footing after an exchange of fire with South Korea across their heavily fortified border, state media reports.

The North Korean leader declared a “semi-state of war” at an emergency meeting on August 20, the KCN reports.

North Korea threatened action unless Seoul ends its anti-Pyongyang border broadcasts.

The secretive country often uses fierce rhetoric when tensions rise and it has made similar declarations before.

At the emergency meeting of the central military commission, Kim Jong-un had ordered that troops be “fully ready for any military operations at any time” from August 21 at 17:00 local time, the KCNA reports.

Photo Twitter

Photo Twitter

Earlier, North Korea warned that it would take strong military action if South Korea does not end border propaganda broadcasts and dismantles the broadcast facilities “within 48 hours”.

However, in a separate letter Pyongyang said it was willing to resolve the issue even though it considers the broadcasts a declaration of war, South Korea’s unification ministry said, according to Reuters.

The tensions were ratcheted up after North Korea on August 20 shelled across the border reportedly to protest against the propaganda broadcasts which restarted after a hiatus of 11 years.

In 2004, South Korea and North Korea reached an agreement to dismantle their propaganda loudspeakers at the border.

The broadcasts were part of a program of psychological warfare, according to South Korean newspaper Korea Times, to deliver outside news so that North Korean soldiers and border-area residents could hear it.

On August 10, South Korea restarted broadcasting in an apparent reaction to two South Korean soldiers being injured in a landmine explosion in the demilitarized zone that was blamed on North Korea.

Military authorities say days later North Korea also restarted its broadcasting of anti-South propaganda.

However, some reports said that the quality of the North Korean loudspeakers is so bad that it is difficult to understand what they are saying.

South Korea responded with artillery fire. There were no reported casualties.

Meanwhile, South Korea ordered the evacuation of residents from an area of its western border.

South Korea and the US also began annual joint military exercises on August 17 – they describe the drills as defensive, but North Korea calls them a rehearsal for invasion.

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Residents from South Korea’s western border have been evacuated after an exchange of fire with North Korea, reports say.

North Korea fired a shell at a South Korean military unit on August 20, prompting South Korea to retaliate with several artillery rounds, the South’s defense ministry said.

South Korea’s National Security Council is due to hold an emergency session.

The western sea border has long been a flashpoint between the two Koreas.

North Korea fired a projectile towards Yeoncheon, a town north-west of Seoul, at 15:52 local time, the defense ministry said.North Korea and South Korea fire 2015

Reports suggest the target could have been a loudspeaker broadcasting anti-Pyongyang messages.

South Korea then fired “dozens of rounds of 155mm shells” towards where they thought the rocket was launched from, the ministry added in a statement.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries or damage on either side.

South Korea and North Korea remain technically at war, because the 1950-1953 war ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

The two sides have exchanged cross-border fire several times in recent years.

A local official told AP news agency that about 80 residents in Yeoncheon had been evacuated, with other residents in the area also urged to take shelter.

The latest incident comes amid heightened tensions between the North and South.

Seoul has blamed the North for planting a landmine that injured two South Korea soldiers earlier this month.

Since then, the sides have begun blasting propaganda broadcasts from loudspeakers along the border – restarting a practice both had suspended back in 2004.

South Korea and the US also began annual joint military exercises on August 17 – they describe the drills as defensive, but North Korea calls them a rehearsal for invasion.

Residents of five front-line South Korean islands have been forced to evacuate to shelters as the two Koreas fired artillery shells into each other’s waters Monday, South Korean officials said.

The South Korean artillery fire came after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the Koreas’ disputed western sea boundary, an official with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, said the official, who provided no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

The exchange of fire followed Pyongyang’s earlier, unusual announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the poorly marked Yellow Sea boundary between the countries. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean, but it’s rare for the country to disclose such training plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.

In addition to sending residents of five front-line South Korean islands to shelters, Lee Han-seok, an official with Ongjin county, which governs the islands, also said that ferry service linking the islands to the mainland was stopped.

North Korea and South Korea fired artillery shells into each other's waters

North Korea and South Korea fired artillery shells into each other’s waters (photo PA)

Kang Myeong-sung, speaking from a shelter on Yeonpyeong island, which is in sight of North Korean territory, said he hadn’t seen any fighter jets but heard the boom of artillery fire.

The North in recent weeks has increased threatening rhetoric and conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea calls the South Korea-US drills a rehearsal for invasion; the allies say they’re routine and defensive.

Pyongyang threatened Sunday to conduct a fourth nuclear test at some point, though Seoul says there are no signs of an imminent detonation. Wee Yong-sub, a deputy spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the North Korean warning about the live-fire drills Monday was a “hostile” attempt to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.

A woman who runs a lodging facility on another front-line island, Baengnyeong, said from a shelter that she was still hearing the sounds of artillery fire about 90 minutes after the North began its live-fire drills.

The western sea boundary has been the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the two Koreas in recent years, including the 2010 artillery attack by North Korea in which it killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong.

Last spring, tension spiked after a near-daily barrage of North Korean threats, including warnings of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington, following international criticism of Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February of last year. North Korea has since gradually dialed down its threats and sought improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts say is an attempt to lure international investment and aid. There has been no major breakthrough in the North’s reported push to win outside aid, however, with Washington and Seoul calling on the North to first take disarmament steps to prove its sincerity about improving ties, analysts say.

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South Korea and the United States have begun a new round of joint military exercises on Monday, officials say, the second round to take place this year.

Thousands of soldiers are taking part in computer-aided drills designed to test defense capabilities.

South Korea says that North Korea, which was angered by the previous drill, was notified well in advance.

The drills come as the North agreed to family reunions and reached a deal with the South on an industrial zone.

The drills, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian, are expected to last for 12 days and mobilizes about 50,000 members of the South Korean military and 30,000 US servicemen, reports Yonhap news agency.

South Korea and the US have begun a new round of joint military exercises on Monday, the second to take place this year

South Korea and the US have begun a new round of joint military exercises on Monday, the second to take place this year

They are intended to help “ensure stability and security on the peninsula and reaffirm the US commitment to the north-east Asia region”, says a statement from the United States Forces Korea.

The drills come as tensions are starting to ease in the peninsula.

On Sunday, North Korea agreed to a South Korean proposal to resume in September reuniting families separated since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

Many families were separated at the end of the war by the dividing of the peninsula. The two sides remain technically at war, because the conflict ended in an armistice and not a peace deal. The last reunions were held in 2010.

Last week, officials of the two Koreas also reached an agreement about re-opening the Kaesong joint industrial zone – the last functioning inter-Korean joint project and a key source of revenue for Pyongyang.

The Kaesong Industrial Complex, which lies just inside North Korea, is home to 123 South Korean factories which employ more than 50,000 North Korean workers.

North Korea withdrew its workers in April, angered by the expansion of UN sanctions after its February 12 nuclear test and annual US-South Korea military drills.

The accord came after six rounds of talks ended unsuccessfully.

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North Korea is holding a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War.

State TV showed soldiers and military hardware parading through the capital Pyongyang in a carefully choreographed display.

Troops and spectators shouted their allegiance to North Korea’s young ruler, Kim Jong-un.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce although North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war.

Correspondents say the lavish parade of weapons and goose-stepping soldiers is reminiscent of marches held by the Soviet Union and China at the height of the Cold War.

The TV pictures showed Kim Jong-un walking up to the podium on a red carpet with a military band playing in the background. The North Korean leader oversaw the parade flanked by military and ruling party leaders.

North Korea is holding a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War

North Korea is holding a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice that ended the Korean War

Large banners hung from gas-filled balloons and the main square in Pyongyang was filled with North Korean flags.

Over the past week North Korea has staged mass rallies and fireworks displays to commemorate the anniversary.

It comes as North and South Korea try to restore ties following a period of high tension.

Earlier this month, they ended a third round of talks on the re-opening of a jointly-run industrial zone without reaching a deal.

Work at Kaesong has been suspended since mid-April when North Korea withdrew its workers.

The move came amid tense relations between the two Koreas after Pyongyang’s nuclear test in February.

In South Korea, the anniversary was marked with a speech by President Park Geun-hye.

Park Geun-hye vowed not to tolerate provocations from North Korea but also said Seoul would work on building trust with the North.

“I urge North Korea to give up the development of nuclear weapons if the country is to start on a path toward true change and progress,” she said.

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