north korea

Synthetic ivy and orange blossoms climb walls adorned with paintings of stirring Korean landscapes, silk flowers fill the vases and the karaoke machine is pumping out the hits as the dinner crowd fills Pyongyang, an incongruous outpost of North Korean culture and cuisine in the capital's teeming streets.

Israel has no ties, diplomatic or otherwise, with North Korea, but some Israelis dream of a warm relationship between the two countries. The Korean Friendship Association, a North Korean government- affiliated organization dedicated to improving the Hermit Kingdom’s foreign relations, established a branch in Israel last year...

Leaflets flown in by North Korea used to be spotted in Seoul until the late 1970s. They were full of unsophisticated propaganda about how happily the people lived under the leadership of their “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung.

Egypt’s biggest businessman holding hands with Kim Jong Il. This image, from an official photograph that also features the Dear Leader’s brother-in-law (below), leaves little doubt as to which side North Korea backs in the Egypt uprising.

Many observers of the Korean Peninsula have traced the apparent relaxation of tensions there to the supporting contributions made by China and the United States, with attention now focusing on the upcoming inter-Korean dialogue. But Russia's role in this process also deserves mention, since Moscow can be a positive force regarding the Koreas.

The face in the painting is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's, smiling beneath his trademark sunglasses and wall of black hair. But the body is Marilyn Monroe's, pushing down her white dress in an updraft.

Han and Kim have been among the busiest troubleshooters of the Seoul-Beijing relationship in 2010, frequently shuttling between the two capital cities to talk with Chinese academics, security experts, and government officials, about pending bilateral issues such as the sinking of the frigate Cheonan and North Korea’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, among others.

Bill Richardson, a former US presidential candidate and currently governor of out-of-the-way New Mexico, grabbed world headlines over the weekend. He travelled to North Korea and, amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, announced a wide-ranging deal with Kim Jong-il's regime.