Photos: Korea conflict in pictures

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  1. 1945: Korea divided

    British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Harry S. Truman and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin sit together at the Potsdam Conference in Germany on Aug. 3, 1945. With the end of World War II, Japan's defeat had ended its colonization of the Korean Peninsula. At Potsdam, the peninsula is divided along the 38th parallel, putting the United States in charge in the south, and the Soviet Union in charge of the north. The division is intended to be temporary, but talks to reunify ultimately collapse. In the emerging Cold War, the line marks the deep ideological polarization between south and north. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. 1948: Enter Kim

    The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is established in the north, with Soviet-trained guerilla Kim Il Sung as leader. Kim embraces a communist utopian view, but during his five decades in power he creates one of the most closed and repressive societies in the world. With control over government, party and military in North Korea, Kim attains demigod status, and is called the Great Leader. He espouses a policy of "self-reliance" but relies heavily on communist allies in Beijing and Moscow for aid. Here Kim, at right, and fellow communist Premier Zhou Enlai of China wave to crowds after Kim arrives in Beijing for a state visit in 1958. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. 1948: America's man in Seoul

    In U.N.-run elections in the South, U.S.-backed Syngman Rhee, a staunch anti-communist, becomes the first president of South Korea. Rhee's reign is marked by brutal treatment of political opponents while administration of the country relies heavily on U.S. aid and expertise. Rhee is finally forced to resign in 1960, but his reign is followed by a series of military backed-regimes, coups and intrigue. Here, President Rhee is shown talking with U.S. Gen. Mark W. Clark in 1953, as Clark retires from his post as commander-in-chief, United Nations Command. (Fred Waters / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. 1950-53: Korean War

    North Korea, armed by the Soviets, invades South Korea in an attempt to unify the peninsula by force. Backed by fellow communist fighters from China, North Korean soldiers face off with American-led U.N. forces and South Korean soldiers. When the fighting ends with armistice, as many as 4 million people have died, and both economies are devastated. The peninsula is again divided along the 38th parallel. The heavily militarized frontier remains to the present. Here, a group of U.S. Marines plug their ears as they launch a rocket barrage against Chinese soldiers during a battle in 1951. (Bettman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. 1960s: Front lines of the Cold War

    North Korea industrializes, rebuilding with weapons and aid from China. As Beijing-Moscow tensions develop, Kim Il Sung maintains a careful balance in relations with the two communist giants. Its military faces off across the 38th parallel with South Korean forces fortified with U.S. arms and some 40,000 U.S. troops. In the south, the export-driven economy prospers. But Cold War tensions stunt political reforms, and color most international relations. In this political cartoon from the period, the U.S. is chided for conducting "politics as usual" while threatened by the "three bears" -- China, Russia and North Korea. (Bettmann / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. 1970s-1980s: Close calls

    Crew members of the USS Pueblo are greeted by relatives in San Diego in December 1968 upon return from 11 months of captivity in North Korea. North Korean soldiers had ambushed and seized their ship in January, killing one crew member and taking 82 others prisoner. Pyongyang insisted the U.S. surveillance vessel was in its waters, a claim disputed by Washington. The captives are freed only after a U.S. official signs an espionage confession. The incident is one in a series of many cross-border intrigues that push North and South Korea to the brink of a new war in these tense years. (James L. Amos / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. 1980: Political upheaval in Seoul

    In South Korea, student-led protests against military rule erupt after the assassination of leader Park Chung Hee, who had himself come to power by coup. Protests in Kwangju city grow into rioting, and dozens of civilians are killed in confrontations with the army. Public outrage over the Kwangju violence helps pave the way for a reform movement that leads to democratic elections in 1987, and a gradual softening toward North Korea. Shown here is a scene from the Kwangju crackdown in May 1980. (Patrick Chauvel / Corbis - Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. 1991: Communist allies retreat

    With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, North Korea loses a key source of food aid and military assistance and its isolation deepens. While China maintains ties with North Korea, Beijing has long since started its capitalist-style reforms -- rejecting Pyongyang's strident ideology -- and forged strong economic relations with booming South Korea and the United States. Beijing's subsidies to North Korea for fuel and food also significantly diminish over time. In this image, a worker boxes up a Stalin statue that formerly decorated the entrance to Russia's national library. (Michel Setboun / Corbis - Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. 1994: Dynastic turnover

    The death of Kim Il Sung in North Korea prompts speculation about the future of the country, but over the course of a few years, the late dictator's son, Kim Jong-Il, consolidates power over the party, military and government. The communist ideology remains the official underpinning. However, most North Koreans live in poverty and isolation from the world, while corruption and nepotism worsen among the ruling elite. Shown here is a mass ceremony in Pyongyang on July 11, 1994, to mourn Kim Il Sung. (Haruyoshi Yamaguchi / Corbis - Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. 1994-98: Famine in the north

    Widespread flooding and then drought in North Korea compound the effects of decreases in food and fuel aid from allies and the longer-term breakdown of the collective production system. An estimated 2 million to 3 million people die of starvation and hunger-related illnesses. Pyongyang, in a change of policy, allows massive amounts of international food aid to enter. There is speculation that the crisis could cause regime collapse, but Kim Jong Il retains his grip on power. This 1997 image of emaciated children at an unidentified kindergarten in North Korea in June 1997 offers a glimpse of the crisis. (Kilcullen - Trocaire / Corbis - Sygma) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. 1997-2000: A little sunshine

    Kim Dae-jung is elected president of South Korea and initiates his "Sunshine Policy" toward the North, which culminates with an historic north-south presidential summit. Here, Kim Dae-jung, left, poses with Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang on June 13, 2000. The warming comes as the Clinton administration negotiates incremental concessions from Pyongyang on weapons and nuclear controls. Under a 1994 deal, North Korea agreed to halt its nascent nuclear weapons program in return for two light-water reactors. Talks aimed at securing a major missile control deal end as Clinton's second term in office comes to a close. (Reuters / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. 2002-present: Nuclear crisis

    U.S. President George W. Bush, in his 2002 State of the Union address, takes a hard line, calling North Korea part of an "axis of evil" with Iran and Iraq. It emerges that North Korea is enriching uranium, flouting the 1994 agreement. As the U.S. takes punitive measures, Pyongyang kicks out nuclear inspectors, and pulls out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2003, regional "six-party talks" to defuse the crisis begin, but proceed haltingly. In October 2006, North Korea said it had carried out its first test of a nuclear weapon. Seen here are North Korean soldiers at the 38th parallel in May 2006. (Wally Santana / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. 2010: Warship sinking

    A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the South Korean warship, the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan, to place it on a barge. The Navy ship was split in two by an external explosion on March 26 near a disputed Yellow Sea border. South Korea believes that a North Korean submarine entered its waters and attacked the ship by torpedo. Some 46 sailors died in the country's worst military disaster since the Korean War. (Hong Jin-Hwan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 1/5/2007 3:03:03 PM ET 2007-01-05T20:03:03

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cautioned North Korea on Friday that a second nuclear test would only further deepen Pyongyang's isolation, while her South Korean counterpart said there was no indication that the North was preparing for a test.

“The reasonable course is to return to six-party talks,” Rice told reporters at a news conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, referring to efforts by the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said there would be “severe consequences” to the diplomatic effort to end Pyongyang’s atomic ambitions if it conducted another nuclear test, Reuters reported.

Song said that the U.S. and South Korea were closely watching the North's nuclear activities, but there were no signs that a follow-up to the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test was imminent.

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“North Korea has to know that (a) nuclear weapon does not guarantee its security, nor help in resolving its economic problems,” Song said. “They have to come back to talks and denuclearize the peninsula and get the right opening for their country in the future.”

ABC News reported Thursday that the communist-led regime appeared to have made preparations for another nuclear test, and that the preparations were similar to steps Pyongyang took before its first nuclear detonation. The report cited unnamed U.S. defense officials.

Rice would not talk about U.S. intelligence but said officials had seen no change in current circumstances.

The six-nation talks, held last month in Beijing, represent an attempt to swap economic incentives and a U.S. assurance of respect for North Korea's security for cessation of the North's nuclear weapons program.

Rice said that if North Korea “is prepared to return in a more constructive spirit,” the talks could be reopened fairly soon. But, she said, we “know of no substantive response from the North Koreans.”

She was glowing, though, in her praise of South Korea: “We have few better friends.”

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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