• There's no place on Earth like North Korea

    Its citizens are closed off from the rest of the world, mostly impoverished and only allowed to access state-run propaganda.
    Its government is armed to the teeth with the world's fourth-largest standing military, chemical weapons, highly-trained special forces and now, nuclear weapons -- which the regime believes are the key to its survival.
    But after years of isolation, the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, has now expressed a willingness to engage in diplomacy and put denuclearization on the table.
    Is he sincere? Or is he just buying time to put the finishing touches on his nuclear program?
  • A charm offensive

    Tension escalated on the Korean peninsula in 2017 when Pyongyang successfully tested intercontinental ballistic missiles and what's believed to be a thermonuclear weapon.
    All the while, new US President Donald Trump and North Korea traded threats and upped the saber-rattling.
    Change came after Kim Jong Un's annual New Year's speech, where he appeared to extend an olive branch to his southern neighbors. Moon Jae-in, the South Korean President, took that and ran with it.
    A South Korean delegation travelled to the North and met with Kim. The two sides agreed to hold a historic third inter-Korean summit on April 27.
    But the biggest bombshell came days later when Moon's national security adviser and top spy traveled to Washington to brief Trump, and relay a message to him: Kim Jong Un was willing to meet. To the world's surprise, Trump said yes.

The meetings 

    South Korea

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    north korea, south korea leaders

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    United States

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    China

  • In this photo provided Wednesday, March 28, 2018, by China's Xinhua News Agency,  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China. The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday that North Korea's reclusive leader Kim went to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi in his first known trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. The official Xinhua News Agency said Kim made an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday.(Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)
    In this photo provided Wednesday, March 28, 2018, by China's Xinhua News Agency,  North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China. The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday that North Korea's reclusive leader Kim went to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi in his first known trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. The official Xinhua News Agency said Kim made an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday.(Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

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      In this photo provided Wednesday, March 28, 2018, by China's Xinhua News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China. The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday that North Korea's reclusive leader Kim went to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi in his first known trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. The official Xinhua News Agency said Kim made an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday.(Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

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  • What we've learned so far

    As Kim begins to meet leaders and dignitaries from other countries, we're learning more and more about the man who used to be considered one of the world's most reclusive leaders.

History 

This picture released by North Korean news agency Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 1, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un delivering the new year message in Pyongyang. / AFP / KCNA VIA KNS / STRINGER / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT   ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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  • Kim Jong Un

    North Korea's leader is the youngest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. Since succeeding his father in 2011, Kim Jong Un has impressed and confounded with his rise from political novice to adept operator.
    Consolidating his power has been key to Kim's rise, and much of this has been done in a brutal, bloody manner.
    Key to securing his leadership is attaining the long-held goal of nuclearization. The regime is in the final stretch of a long program to obtain the weaponry, and with it the stature of being part of the exclusive nuclear club.
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The weapons 

    The nukes

  • In this undated image distributed on Sunday, September 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.
    In this undated image distributed on Sunday, September 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.

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      In this undated image distributed on Sunday, September 3, 2017, by the North Korean government, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an undisclosed location.

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  • The end game: Deterrence

    North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.
    Pyongyang looks at states such as Iraq and Libya, whose leaders were overthrown after giving up their nuclear programs. As such, North Korea believes the only way to avoid American military intervention is a functional nuclear deterrent.
    Many experts say they believe North Korea would not use the weapons first. Kim values his regime's survival above all else and knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war he could not win, analysts say.

    The missiles

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