North Korea

South Korea's 51 million people have been under existential threat for so long that they've largely normalized the risks posed to them by North Korea. After all, Seoul has been the target of Pyongyang's espionage plots and tunnels and artillery since Korea split in two more than 60 years ago.

President Trump's decision to meet North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, by the end of May poses both risks and opportunities for China.

For the time being, U.S. plans to launch a military strike on North Korea are on the back burner and there is hope for an easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Updated Saturday, March 10 at 2:32 p.m. ET

The White House appeared Friday to put conditions on a much anticipated meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders saying it would only happen once the rogue nation takes "concrete and verifiable action" to demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization.

"We've accepted the invitation to talk based on them following through on concrete actions on the promises they've made," Sanders said Friday.

President Trump certainly has a flair for the dramatic.

The announcement Thursday night that the president of the United States had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un shocked the world.

That is the kind of phrase that is overused — in politics and sports, in particular — but it's appropriate in this case.

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un don't exactly travel in the same circles. Yet there's a man who's spent quality time with both of them: Dennis Rodman.

Trump fired Rodman for misspelling his wife's name when the ex-NBA star appeared on Trump's reality TV show, The Apprentice, in 2013. And Rodman has visited North Korea several times, including last year, to serve as an informal diplomat and basketball guru to Kim.

Updated at 2:58 a.m. ET

President Trump has agreed to a face-to-face meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "at a place and time to be determined," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Thursday.

The announcement came in response to a stunning invitation from Kim, relayed by South Korea's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who briefed Trump and other U.S. officials on Chung's recent meeting with Kim in Pyongyang.

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

The sister of North Korea's leader, Kim Yo Jong, and other high-ranking officials from Pyongyang have met with South Korea's president. Their three-day visit to South Korea marks the highest level inter-Korean contact in more than a decade.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency also says Kim Yong Nam is "the only member of the communist state's ruling family to have visited the South, at least since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War."

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."

The White House has abandoned its choice for the next ambassador to South Korea, reportedly because of differing views on the idea of using a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

Victor Cha, who was widely reported to be the prime candidate for the post, is no longer under consideration, a National Security Council spokesman told NPR. No reason was given. Cha is a professor at Georgetown University who served as director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council during the George W. Bush administration.

The details of how North Korea will participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea are still being worked out, but the two countries say their athletes will march together at the opening ceremony, under a unification flag.

The two countries will also form a unified women's hockey team to compete at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, NPR's Elise Hu reports from Seoul. In addition, North Korea will send a cheering squad of 230 people to support athletes who make the trip.