North Korea

A South Korean bows before a gravestone of her relative who died for the country on the eve of South Korea's Memorial Day at the National Cemetery in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, June 5, 2013.

Lee Jin-man/AP

A woman bows before the gravestone of a relative at the National Cemetery in Seoul on the eve of South Korea’s Memorial day on Wednesday

A North Korean soldier looks at a North Korean man (R) carrying his tools at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, in Paju, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul May 22, 2013. North Korea sent one of its top military officials to Beijing on Wednesday as a "special envoy" of its leader Kim Jong-un, state news agency KCNA reported.

Choi Dong-jun/Reuters

A North Korean soldier watches a North Korean man carrying his tools at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone dividing the two Koreas, in Paju, about 55km north of Seoul on Wednesday. North Korea sent one of its top military officials to Beijing on Wednesday as a ‘special envoy’ of its leader Kim Jong-un, state news agency KCNA reported.

Members of the South Korean special forces take part in a military drill in Yeongcheon, southeast of Seoul in this May 2, 2013 picture provided by Yonhap. The two Koreas remain technically at war under a mere truce that ended hostilities in their 1950-53 conflict and North Korea, angry at U.N. sanctions and joint South Korean-U.S. military drills, has threatened both countries with nuclear attack in recent weeks.

Han Jong-chan/Yonhap/Reuters

Members of the South Korean special forces take part in a military drill in Yeongcheon, southeast of Seoul. The two Koreas technically remain at war under a truce that ended hostilities in their 1950-1953 conflict. North Korea is angry at UN sanctions and joint South Korean-US military drills, and has recently threatened both countries with nuclear attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) welcomes Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (R) during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia 29 April 2013. The meeting is to discuss bilateral cooperation and international issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula.

Kirill Kudryavtsev/EPA

Russian president Vladimir Putin (left) welcomes Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow. The meeting is to discuss bilateral co-operation and international issues, including the situation on the Korean peninsula.

North Korean soldiers and civilians pose for souvenir photos in front of a fountain as they tour the grounds of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum where the bodies of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie embalmed, in Pyongyang on Thursday, April 25, 2013. North Korea on Thursday marked the 81st anniversary of the founding of its military, which began as an anti-Japanese militia and now has an estimated 1.2-million troops.

David Guttenfelder/AP

North Korean soldiers and civilians pose for souvenir photos in front as they tour the grounds of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, the mausoleum where the bodies of the late leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie, embalmed in Pyongyang. North Korea on Thursday marked the 81st anniversary of the founding of its military, which began as an anti-Japanese militia and now has an estimated 1.2m troops.

A North Korean traffic policeman stands at an intersection in Kaesong, North Korea.

David Guttenfelder/AP

A North Korean traffic policeman stands at an intersection in Kaesong, North Korea.

A Chinese soldier stands guard at the main entrance door of the Bayi building where US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey met with Chinese military officials in Beijing on April 23, 2013.  Dempsey was expected to discuss concerns over tensions with North Korea, amongst other bilateral items.

Andy Wong/AFP

A Chinese soldier stands guard at the main entrance door of the Bayi building where US joint chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey met Chinese military officials in Beijing. Gen Dempsey was expected to discuss concerns over tensions with North Korea. 

A South Korean soldier holding his machine gun runs in front of an advertisement board during an anti-terror drills at Government Complex in Sejong, south of Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, April 17, 2013. North Korea lashed out anew Tuesday at South Korea over a small public protest in Seoul in which demonstrators burned effigies of the North's leaders, saying it would not hold talks with its southern neighbor unless it apologized for anti-North Korean actions "big and small" and warning that it could take retaliatory measures at any time.

Lee Jin-man/AP

A South Korean soldier holding his machine gun runs in front of an advertisement board during an anti-terror drill at Government Complex in Sejong, south of Seoul, South Korea on Wednesday. North Korea on Tuesday lashed out anew at South Korea over a small public protest in Seoul in which demonstrators burned effigies of the North’s leaders, saying it would not hold talks with its southern neighbour unless it apologised for anti-North Korean actions ‘big and small’ and warning that it could take retaliatory measures at any time.

A man, center, supervises a dancing group  during a mass folk dance in front of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, April 15, 2013. Oblivious to international tensions over a possible North Korean missile launch, Pyongyang residents spilled into the streets Monday to celebrate a major national holiday, the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il Sung.

Alexander F. Yuan/AP

A man, center, supervises a dancing group during a mass folk dance in front of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Monday, April 15, 2013. Oblivious to international tensions over a possible North Korean missile launch, Pyongyang residents spilled into the streets Monday to celebrate a major national holiday, the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il Sung.

South Korean soldiers patrol on the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong

Jung Yeon-Je/AFP

South Korean soldiers patrol the South Korea-controlled island of Yeonpyeong near the disputed waters of the Yellow Sea at dawn on April 14 2013. The Korean peninsula has been engulfed by escalating military tensions and dire threats of nuclear war ever since North Korea conducted a rocket test in December and a nuclear test in February.

Retired North Korean military members stand at attention during an induction ceremony for children into the Korean Children's Union, the first political organization for North Koreans, held at a stadium in Pyongyang on Friday, April 12, 2013.

David Guttenfelder/AP

Retired military officers of North Korea stand at attention during an induction ceremony for children into the Korean Children’s Union, the first political organisation for North Koreans, held at a stadium in Pyongyang on Friday.

South Korean soldiers of an artillery unit check their gears during a drill as it snows in Hwacheon...South Korean soldiers of an artillery unit check their gears during a drill as it snows in Hwacheon, about 20 km (12 miles) south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas and about 120 km (75 miles) northeast of Seoul April 9, 2013. North Korea warned foreigners in South Korea on Tuesday to quit the country because they were at risk in the event of conflict, the latest threat of war from Pyongyang.  REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA

South Korean soldiers check their equipment during a drill near the demilitarised zone. Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

South Korean soldiers of an artillery unit check their equipment during a drill as it snows in Hwacheon, about 20 km south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas and about 120 km northeast of Seoul on April 9. North Korea urged foreigners in South Korea on Tuesday to leave the country because they were at risk in the event of conflict, the latest threat of war from Pyongyang.

South Korean army reservists raise their hands to adopt a resolution against North Korea during a rehearsal for their Foundation Day ceremony at a gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, April 5, 2013.

South Korean army reservists raise their hands to adopt a resolution against North Korea during a rehearsal for their Foundation Day ceremony at a gymnasium in Seoul, South Korea, on April 5 2013. AP/Ahn Young-joon

About 1,000 reservists denounced North Korea for escalating the threat for war. North Korea has been railing against US-South Korean military exercises that began in March and will continue until the end of April. The allies insist the exercises in South Korea are routine, but the North calls them rehearsals for an invasion and says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself. 

A US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jet takes off from the Osan US Air Base in Pyeongtaek on April 3

A US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jet takes off from the Osan US Air Base in Pyeongtaek on April 3. Yon Hap/AFP

North Korea have blocked access to a key joint industrial zone with South Korea, a sharp escalation in a military crisis that Washington blamed on Pyongyang’s “reckless” behaviour. The US has positioned a warship off the Korean coast as a shield against ballistic missile attack, and also deployed radar-evading F-22 Raptors on Sunday to take part in the annual joint military drills it carries out with South Korea.