Timeline: Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
(CNN) -- The two Koreas, still technically at war having never signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, have clashed several times over the western sea border in the past several years.
Attempts at reconciliation have met numerous setbacks, but talks continue.
June 25, 1950: North Korea launches a surprise attack against South Korea triggering the Korean War. U.N. troops defend the South, while China counterattacks in support of the North. Seoul changes hands three times over the next three years.
July 27, 1953: The war ends with nearly 3 million dead and North and South are separated by the most heavily guarded border in the world.
1961: After a brief period of democracy in South Korea, Park Chung Hee, an army general and veteran of the Japanese imperial army, stages a military coup and takes power.
August 15, 1974: A North Korean agent attempts to assassinate President Park but kills the first lady instead.
October 1979: Park is assassinated by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.
December 1979: The South Korean army seizes power and attempts to crush ongoing student and labor protests.
May 18, 1980: Protesters seize control of the South Korean city of Kwangju, the army retaliates with unprecedented ferocity. Hundreds of protesters are injured during the nine-day uprising and the official death toll is 240.
1983: North Korean agents plant a bomb in Burma killing 17 members of a visiting South Korean delegation, including four Cabinet ministers.
1987: A bomb explodes on a Korean Air Lines jet, killing all 115 on board – North Korea is held responsible.
1988: The South Korean government allows trade with North Korea.
September 1990: Prime ministers of the two Koreas hold a meeting
July 1994: Kim Il Sung dies and is replaced by his son, Kim Jong Il. Conditions in the North continue to decline, with an estimated 2 million starving to death in the 1990s.
September 1996: A North Korean spy submarine runs aground off South Korea's east coast. 13 South Korean soldiers and civilians and 24 North Korean commandos are killed in the massive manhunt that ensues.
1998: Former dissident Kim Dae-jung is elected president of South Korea.
June 2000: The North and South Korean leaders hold a historic three day summit in Pyongyang. They sign a pact making a commitment towards reunification and allow reunions of families separated during the Korean War.
September 25, 2000: The defense ministers of South and North Korea meet for talks.
October 2000: U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright holds talks with Kim Jong Il in North Korea.
December 2000: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung is presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to establish relations with Communist North Korea.
March 2001: South Korean President Kim Dae-jung meets with US President George W. Bush. North Korea cancels ministerial talks with the South after Bush states the North poses a threat to the region and cannot be trusted to honor agreements.
October 2001: North Korea postpones plans to hold reunions of families separated since the Korean War, citing a "warlike situation" in Seoul since the terrorist attacks in the United States.
January 2002: In President Bush's State of Union address he names Iran, Iraq and North Korea as states promoting terrorist activity, calling them "an axis of evil."
February 2002: Bush visits South Korea and stresses his support for diplomatic efforts to bring North and South Korea closer but expresses opposition to "a regime that tolerates starvation."
March 2002: Twenty-five North Korean asylum seekers storm Spain's embassy in Beijing in an attempt to defect to the South.
April 2002: North Korea says it will resume dialogue with the United States, but warns it will call off any future talks if Washington "slanders" the communist country again.
June 2002: A violent skirmish between the Koreas navies on the Yellow Sea leaves at least four South Korean sailors dead and at least 19 others injured. An estimated 13 North Korean sailors are killed when the South returns fire.
July 2002: North Korea issues a statement of "regret" for the Yellow sea naval clash. South Korea accepts the apology.
August 2002: North and South Korea hold ministerial talks in Seoul. The two Koreas agree to work on cross-border road and rail links.
September 2002: Hundreds of separated Korean families meet for the first time in emotional reunions.
October 2002: North Korea surprises the world by admitting that the secretive communist state continued a secret nuclear weapons program after agreeing to freeze it in 1994, creating tensions with the international community.
December 2002: Roh Moo-hyun wins South Korea's presidential election. President-elect Roh -- who champions President Kim Dae-jung's 'sunshine policy" -- vows to ease tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program through dialogue.