World News

North Korea's Kim Sends Envoy to China

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has sent a senior military official as a special envoy to China, at a time of strained relations between the two traditional allies.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Choe Ryong Hae, the director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army, left Pyongyang for China Wednesday along with a government delegation. No details about the purpose of the trip were given.

It is believed to be one of the highest-level delegations North Korea has sent to Beijing since Mr. Kim took over leadership of the country following the death of his father in late 2011.

China has long been North Korea's main ally and primary economic lifeline. But there are signs that the new leadership in Beijing is growing impatient with the North.

The brief KCNA report detailing Choe's visit also indicated that North Korea has again reshuffled the top ranks of its military. The report named Kim Kyok Sik, a hawkish general, as the North's new military chief.

Kim Kyok Sik is thought to have had a role in two attacks that left 50 South Koreans dead in 2010. He previously served as military chief from 2007 until 2009. He served as defense minister since last October before being replaced last week.

KCNA said the hardline general saw off the North Korean delegation at the Pyongyang airport Wednesday along with other high-level officials, including the Chinese ambassador to the North.

Some analysts say the North Korean trip to China may be an attempt to mend relations that have been complicated by Beijing's growing frustration with Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions.

The state-run Bank of China recently halted business with North Korea's main foreign exchange bank. The move, which was welcomed in Washington, was seen by many as a sign Beijing is willing to comply more rigidly with U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang's nuclear program.

China-North Korea ties also were challenged this month when unidentified North Koreans seized 16 Chinese fishermen and demanded a ransom. Beijing has demanded an investigation of the incident. The fishermen were released safely on Tuesday.

Japan said Wednesday it is considering direct talks with North Korea regarding on the decades-old issue of Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese nationals.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that Japan is "exploring every possibility," including the resumption of talks, to resolve the abduction issue.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who unexpectedly sent a special envoy to North Korea last week, also has promised to pursue talks with the North.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs