North Korea

Vice President Pence, who will lead the U.S. delegation at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday, says he is prepared to announce the "toughest" economic sanctions yet on North Korea.

At the start of a six-day visit to Japan and South Korea, the vice president said the U.S. "will soon unveil the toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever — and we will continue to isolate North Korea until it abandons its nuclear and ballistic missile programs once and for all."

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Let's stay with this story and bring in the voice of Frank Aum. He's a North Korea expert, formerly at the Defense Department, now at the United States Institute of Peace. And he's here in our studios. Welcome.

Updated 6:20 p.m. ET

A false ballistic missile alert in Hawaii was sent on Jan. 13 because an emergency worker believed there really was a missile threat, according to a preliminary investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

Efforts to make a show of North Korean and South Korean unity at the next Olympics are drawing a backlash in South Korea. In Seoul, protesters Monday set fire to the North Korean flag and a photo of Kim Jong Un. The South Korean president's approval rating has dropped in recent days as well.

"We oppose, we oppose, we oppose," shouted demonstrators at Seoul Station, the rail and subway station in the center of the capital. They showed up to confront a North Korean advance team that had arrived to scout out Olympic venues.

It is a sign of the times: Tokyo has conducted its first public drill to prepare for the possibility of a missile attack from North Korea.

At the Tokyo Dome amusement park, rides came to a halt as the public address system blared an ominous warning: "An advisory about a missile launch was just issued. Everyone, please stay calm and seek shelter in the basement. Those who are already indoors, please stay there."

Japan's public broadcaster sent out a false alert warning of a North Korean missile on Tuesday, just three days after Hawaii residents received an erroneous message about an incoming missile.

"North Korea appears to have launched a missile ... The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground," the message read, according to a translation from Reuters.

Updated 9:45 p.m. ET

Hawaii residents and tourists alike were shaken shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday when a push notification alerted those in the state to a missile threat, causing an immediate panic until officials confirmed it was a false alarm.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL," read the message, which also blared across Hawaiian televisions stations.

In the Korea Talks, Why Kim Jong Un Can't Lose

Jan 9, 2018

North and South Korea have just held their first high-level meeting in two years to discuss the North's participation in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. These talks follow months of tension and escalating rhetoric over the North's continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests. Since his inauguration in May, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has sought to engage with the North, and when Kim Jong Un finally opened the door to negotiations last week, the South eagerly agreed.

The Army is training thousands more soldiers in tunnel warfare, part of an effort to be ready to offer President Trump military options for North Korea, U.S. officials tell NPR.

North Korea is honeycombed with thousands of tunnels and bunkers, some of them discovered leading across the border and close to the South Korean capital, Seoul. Others in North Korea are hundreds of feet deep and could be used to hide troops and artillery, as well as chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

In rare talks between the rival Koreas held at the shared border village of Panmunjom, the North has agreed to send athletes and a cheering squad to the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next month.

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