North Korea's Kim invites South Korean president for summit: S. Korea

SEOUL/PYEONGCHANG, South Korea, Feb 10 (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un invited South Korean President Moon Jae-in for talks in Pyongyang, South Korean officials said on Saturday, setting the stage for the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than 10 years.

Any meeting would represent a diplomatic coup for Moon, who swept to power last year on a policy of engaging more with the reclusive North.

The recent detente, anchored by South Korea's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games that began on Friday, came despite an acceleration in the North's weapons programs last year and pressure from Seoul's allies in Washington.

The personal invitation from Kim was delivered by his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, during talks and a lunch Moon hosted at the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

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Kim Yo Jong at the 2018 Winter Olympics
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Kim Yo Jong at the 2018 Winter Olympics
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong arrives at Incheon International Airport, South Korea, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 9, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WILL BE PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's younger sister Kim Yo Jong arrives at Incheon International Airport, South Korea, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 9, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN.
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - IOC President Thomas Bach and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook and Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Karen Pence (front R), wife of US Vice President Mike Pence, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (top C), North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (top 2nd L), Kim Jung-Sook (front C), the wife of South Korea's President Moon Jae-in (front L), attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yo Jong claps as Kim Yong Nam looks, in front of Korea players. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yong Nam claps as he is flanked by Korean President Moon Jae-in, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Kim Yo Jong. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong attend. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yo Jong looks on. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong clap. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yo Jong claps next to Kim Yong Nam in front of Korea players. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yo Jong claps next to Kim Yong Nam. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - IOC President Thomas Bach, President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People?s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam, Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un greet united Korea team during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yo Jong shakes hands with a man. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, President of the Presidium of the Supreme People?s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam, Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Ice Hockey ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Women Preliminary Round Match - Switzerland v Korea - Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung, South Korea ? February 10, 2018 - Kim Yong Nam, Kim Yo Jong and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach attend match. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, resident of the Presidium of the Supreme People?s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam and Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, resident of the Presidium of the Supreme People?s Assembly of North Korea Kim Young Nam and Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook and Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook, Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Opening ceremony ? Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium - Pyeongchang, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - IOC President Thomas Bach and President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, his wife Kim Jung-Sook and Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of North Koreas leader Kim Jong-un during the opening ceremony. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (L) leave after the women's preliminary round ice hockey match between Switzerland and the Unified Korean team during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jung Yeon-je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (R) and North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam attend the women's preliminary round ice hockey match between Switzerland and the Unified Korean team during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) IOC President Thomas Bach, North Korean ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attend the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game between Switzerland and Korea on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 10: IOC President Thomas Bach, North Korean ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam and Kim Yo Jong watch as Switzerland plays Korea during the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round - Group B game on day one of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Kwandong Hockey Centre on February 10, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (R) and North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam watch the women's preliminary round ice hockey match between Switzerland and the Unified Korean team during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Kwandong Hockey Centre in Gangneung on February 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 9: Head of State of North Korea Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, sister of President of North Korea Kim Jong-un, below Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
9th February 2018, Pyeongchang, South Korea; 2018 Winter Olympic Games; Opening Ceremony at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium; South Korean President Moon Jae-in declaring open the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games with North Korea's Kim Yo-jong in the group picture (Photo by Roland Harrison/Action Plus via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 9: President of North Korea Kim Yong-nam and Kim Yo-jong, sister of President of North Korea Kim Jong-un during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong waves during the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Odd ANDERSEN (Photo credit should read ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence (front L), Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (front R), North Korea's ceremonial head of state Kim Yong Nam (back 2nd L) and North Korea's Kim Jong Un;s sister Kim Yo Jong (back R) watch the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Patrick Semansky (Photo credit should read PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea's Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (R) leaves after the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Patrick Semansky (Photo credit should read PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korea's Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong arrives for the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Patrick Semansky (Photo credit should read PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - North Korea's Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong arrives for the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Patrick Semansky (Photo credit should read PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Kim Yo-jong shakes hands with President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong (back left) watch on during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Kim Yo-jong and President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in applaud during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Kim Yo-jong attends during the Opening Ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
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Kim Jong Un wanted to meet Moon "at an early date" and Moon had said "let's create conditions to make it happen," Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing.

A Blue House official said Moon "practically accepted" the invitation.

"We would like to see you at an early date in Pyongyang," Kim Yo Jong told Moon during the lunch, according to another Blue House official.

The prospect of two-way talks between the Koreas, however, may not be welcomed by the United States.

Washington has pursued a strategy of exerting maximum pressure on Pyongyang through tough sanctions and harsh rhetoric, demanding it give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"This is the strongest action yet by North Korea to drive a wedge between the South and the United States," said Kim Sung-han, a former South Korean vice foreign minister and now a professor at Korea University in Seoul.

Moon asked the North Korean delegation during Saturday's meeting to engage in dialog with Washington "at an early date," the Blue House said.

A visit by Moon to the North would enable the first summit between leaders from the two Koreas since 2007.

EXTREME PRESSURE

Pyongyang conducted its largest nuclear test last year and said it had developed a missile capable of carrying a warhead to the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leadership traded insults as tensions rose, with Trump repeatedly dismissing the prospect or value of talks with North Korea.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, also in South Korea for the Olympics, has said the United States and South Korea were closely aligned in their approach to dealing with North Korea.

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Key moments in 2017 between US and North Korea
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Key moments in 2017 between US and North Korea

NEW YEARS DAY MISSILE LAUNCH

On January 1, 2017, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un warned that an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was in the 'final stages' of development.

The nation said it could conduct a missile test-launch 'anytime and anywhere'.

On February 12, North Korea tested a ballistic missile, but it didn't appear to be an ICBM due to its flight range.

NUCLEAR CRISIS AT MAR-A-LAGO

President Trump was at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago having dinner with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe when news broke that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile on February 12.

The president sparked controversy by reportedly discussing the event in front of Mar-a-Lago diners while continuing his meal with the Japanese leader and other guests. 

'MERCILESS' STRIKES

On March 5, North Korea sent an inflammatory message to the U.S. by firing four ballistic missiles into the sea near Japan.

The U.S. deployed an anti-missile system in South Korea the following day.

In response, North Korea warned of 'merciless' strikes against the U.S.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said military action against Pyongyang was 'on the table' and Trump tweeted that the nation is 'behaving very badly.'

COVERT PHOTO OF TILLERSON

During a visit to North Korea's border on March 17, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was unwittingly photographed by a North Korean soldier, who can be seen peering into the room on the right side of the image.

The next day, Rex Tillerson said the threat of North Korea is 'imminent.'

BOLD MISSILE STRIKE

North Korea tested another ballistic missile shortly before President Trump's planned meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on April 5.

Rex Tillerson responded by saying the U.S. 'has spoken enough.' Trump later said the nation 'is looking for trouble.'

The U.S. military warned it was 'prepared to launch a preemptive strike' against North Korea if there were signs the country was planning to test a nuclear weapon.

POLL SHOWS US CONCERNS

A poll conducted by CBS News in April showed that more than half of Americans said they were 'uneasy' about President Trump's ability to deal with North Korea.

FAILED MISSILE TEST

North Korea celebrated the 105th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth, North Korea's founder, by unveiling powerful new missiles in April.

The next day, a North Korean missile 'blew up' just a few hours before Vice President Mike Pence arrived in South Korea for a diplomatic trip.

TENSE BACK-AND-FORTH

On April 27, North Korea released a video showing a simulation of a White House attack. 

President Trump responded by saying a 'major, major conflict' with North Korea was 'absolutely' possible.

The next day, Pyongyang unsuccessfully test-fired another ballistic missile in an act of bold defiance against international pressure to curb its nuclear program.

'PRETTY SMART COOKIE'

President Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un 'a pretty smart cookie' in an interview that went viral on April 30.

'At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I'm sure, tried to take that power away, whether it was his uncle or anybody else. And he was able to do it. So obviously, he's a pretty smart cookie,' Trump told CBS News.

The president also said he'd be 'honored' to meet with the North Korean leader.

KIM JONG UN'S LETTER TO CONGRESS

In early May, North Korea said it would continue its nuclear weapons tests and boost force 'to the maximum' in a stark warning to the U.S.

Pyongyang also condemned President Trump for directing the peninsula to the 'brink of nuclear war.'

Soon after, North Korea sent a rare letter to the U.S. House of Representatives to protest tougher sanctions on the nation.

TRUMP GETS HEAT AT HOME

In Washington, Trump was met with criticism from several lawmakers over his handling of North Korea.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sounded off on the issue, saying Trump 'can't meet with Kim Jong Un' as he'd discussed.

MISSILE TEST CONFIRMS ADVANCEMENT

On May 13, North Korea carried out another ballistic missile test-launch, which landed in the sea near Russia.

Pyongyang said the launch was aimed at confirming the country could carry large nuclear warheads, signaling an advancement in their development.

'MADMAN' LEAK

In late May, a transcript of a phone call between President Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was leaked to the public.

The transcript showed President Trump call North Korea's leader a 'madman with nuclear weapons' who could not be let on the loose.

'BIGGER GIFT PACKAGE' FOR US

As tensions continued to ramp up in May, North Korea launched another ballistic missile test and warned the U.S. of a 'bigger gift package' in the future.

The U.S. responded by issuing new sanctions on Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, experts cautioned that the U.S. 'may not be able to stop' the threat of North Korean nuclear missiles.

US PREPARES FOR NUCLEAR THREAT

Several states began to carry out nuclear attack drills to prepare for potential threats.

New York City set up a triage simulation at MetLife Stadium and Hawaii's government called for school evacuation drills.

DENNIS RODMAN VISITS PYONGYANG

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea in June.

'I'm just trying to open the door,' he told reporters. 'My purpose is to actually to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea, so that's the main thing.'

OTTO WARMBIER

Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati, was released from North Korean custody on June 13.

Warmbier had been imprisoned in North Korea since early 2016 after he was accused of trying to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel while visiting the country as a tourist.

After the announcement of his release, Warmbier was photographed comatose and being carried off a plane with a tube in his nose. It was discovered that he had been in a coma for the past year.

North Korean officials said he got botulism and was given a sleeping pill, but never woke up.

Warmbier's father said his son suffered a serious neurological injury was 'brutalized.'

Otto Warmbier died on June 19 from lack of oxygen and blood to the brain, according to a U.S. coroner.

TRADING INSULTS

President Trump tweeted in June that diplomacy 'has not worked out' with North Korea, suggesting a potential change in policy.

Pyongyang called Trump a 'psychopath' two days later.

SUCCESSFUL LAUNCH OF ICBM

On July 4, North Korea successfully test-launched an ICBM for the first time ever. The missile flew a trajectory that could hit Alaska.

President Trump responded via Twitter: 'North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?...'

The president later vowed to 'confront very strongly' the issue of North Korea's 'very, very bad behavior.'

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said North Korea's actions were 'quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution' and that the United States was prepared to use force 'if we must.'

'PILE OF ASH'

In a bold statement, North Korea threatened to turn the U.S. into a 'pile of ash' on July 12.

US THREATENED WITH 'MERCILESS BLOW'

On July 27, a North Korean spokesperson said, 'Should the U.S. dare to show even the slightest sign of attempt to remove our supreme leadership, we will strike a merciless blow at the heart of the U.S. with our powerful nuclear hammer, honed and hardened over time.'

The following day, North Korea fired a missile in an unusual late-night test-launch.

MISSILE LAUNCH BROKE RECORD

The Pentagon reported that North Korea's latest ICBM launch on July 28 was the longest test in their history.

The U.S. responded by successfully test-launching an ICBM  from California.

The U.S. also issued a ban on American passport holders traveling to North Korea that took effect on September 1.

TRUMP WARNS OF 'FIRE AND FURY'

In early August, President Trump warned that North Korea would be met with 'fire and fury' if it continued to threaten the United States.

In response, North Korea said it was considering a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.

POLL SHOWS US VIEW OF THREAT

A CNN poll in August showed that most Americans saw North Korea as a 'very serious threat' at that point.

US TOLD TO 'ACT PROPERLY'

President Trump said the U.S. military was 'locked and loaded' in a series of new threats against Pyongyang.

North Korea responded by saying, 'If the Trump administration does not want the American empire to meet its tragic doom..., they had better talk and act properly.'

MISSILE FLIES NEAR JAPAN

On August 29, North Korea fired a missile over Japan that landed in waters near the country, marking a major escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

After the missile launch, President Trump said 'all options are on the table.'

'ASHES AND DARKNESS'

After Pyongyang conducted its biggest missile test to date on August 29, one of its top diplomats said it was ready to send 'more gift packages' to the United States.

North Korea later threatened to 'sink' Japan and reduce the United States to 'ashes and darkness.'

On September 15, North Korea carried out another missile test-launch.

'ROCKET MAN'

President Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 'rocket man' twice, first during an address before the U.N. General Assembly in September and again on Twitter:

'I spoke with President Moon of South Korea last night. Asked him how Rocket Man is doing. Long gas lines forming in North Korea. Too bad!'

Trump claimed the nickname was meant to be a compliment.

'DOTARD'

Kim Jong Un called President Trump 'mentally deranged' and said he would 'totally destroy' the U.S. after he was dubbed 'rocket man' in a U.N. speech.

The North Korean leader also slammed President Trump as 'a frightened dog,' a 'dotard' and  'gangster fond of playing with fire' in a statement released on September 22.

TRUMP VISITS ASIA

President Trump brought up North Korea during a trip to Japan in November, saying 'no dictator' should underestimate the U.S.

Trump's planned visit to the DMZ was canceled due to weather.

TRUMP CALLED 'OLD' BY KIM JONG UN

On November 11, President Trump posted a tweet:

'Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!'

NOVEMBER MISSILE LAUNCH

North Korea fired what is believed to be an ICBM on November 28 that landed near Japan.

Trump responded by saying, 'It is a situation that we will handle.'

A North Korean official said the U.S. was 'begging for nuclear war' and participating in an 'extremely dangerous nuclear gamble.'

MORE ON NORTH KOREA

1. Kim Jong Un just had another baby

2. Meet North Korea's secret 'princess'

3. South Korea to create a 'decapitation unit' for Kim Jong Un

4. Kim Jong Un's half-brother murdered in attack at Malaysian airport

5. Study shows most Americans can't identify North Korea on a map

On December 20, it was reported that North Korea is testing whether its ICBM weapons are capable of carrying anthrax.
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"I am very confident, as President Trump is, that President Moon will continue to stand strongly with us in our extreme-pressure campaign," Pence told NBC in an interview on Friday, maintaining all options were open to deal with the crisis.

"Make no mistake about it, the United States of America has viable military options to deal with a nuclear threat from North Korea but, that being said, we hope for a better path," he said.

North and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty. The United States fought with South Korea and maintains tens of thousands of troops and an "ironclad" agreement to protect its ally.

North Korea has spent years developing its military, saying it needs to protect itself from U.S. aggression.

SACRED BLOODLINE

Moon hoped to use the Olympics to ease tensions and North Korea agreed to send high-profile officials as well as athletes.

Kim Yo Jong arrived in South Korea on Friday with Kim Yong Nam, the North's nominal head of state, for the opening ceremony in the alpine town of Pyeongchang.

Pence also attended the Games opening ceremony but had no contact with the North Korean delegation.

Kim Yo Jong, 28, is the first member of the ruling Kim family bearing the bloodline of the sacred Mount Paektu, a centerpiece of the North's idolisation and propaganda campaign, to cross the border into the South since the 1950-53 Korean War.

The delegations shared a lunch of dried pollack dumpling soup, a regional speciality of the only divided province on the Korean peninsula, and soju, a spirit popular on both sides of the heavily militarized border.

Moon and Kim Yong Nam planned to return to the Games venue to watch the joint Korean women's ice hockey team - the first ever combined team at the Olympics - take on Switzerland, the Blue House said.

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North Korea and South Korea hit the ice
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North Korea and South Korea hit the ice
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, North Korean women's ice hockey coach Pak Chol-Ho, center, speaks during a meeting with South Korean women's hockey team at the South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the Joint Government Support Corps, North Korean women's ice hockey players training with Sarah Murray (C), head coach of the two Korea's unified women's ice hockey team at South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Joint Government Support Corps via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, South Korean women's hockey team players (R) talk with North Korean women's ice hockey team players (L) at the South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the Joint Government Support Corps, North Korean women's ice hockey players training at South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Joint Government Support Corps via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the Joint Government Support Corps, North Korean women's ice hockey players training with South Korean goalie at South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Joint Government Support Corps via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, North Korean women's ice hockey team players watch South Korean women's ice hockey team's training at the South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the Joint Government Support Corps, North Korean women's ice hockey players talks with South Korean coach during their training at South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Joint Government Support Corps via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, South Korea and North Korea women's ice hockey team players meet at the South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
JINCHEON-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - JANUARY 26: In this handout image provided by the South Korean Unification Ministry, North Korean women's ice hockey team players watch South Korean women's ice hockey team's training at the South Korea's national training center on January 26, 2018 in Jincheon-gun, South Korea. (Photo by South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL and Soyoung Kim in PYEONGCHANG; Additional reporting by Haejin Choi in SEOUL and James Pearson in PYEONGCHANG; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait)

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