• There's no place on Earth like North Korea

    It has the world's fourth-largest standing military, highly-trained special forces, chemical weapons and a nuclear arsenal. Its citizens are closed off from the rest of the world and many are hugely impoverished.
    But the winds of change could be blowing. Kim Jong Un, the country's young leader, made his debut on the diplomatic stage in 2018, meeting with some of the world's most powerful leaders.
    He has publicly committed his country to a path of peace and denuclearization.
    Big questions remain however. Why now? What about North Korea's alleged human rights abuses? And is Kim sincere, or could the rest of the world get played?
  • SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 27: South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meet at the Military Demarcation Line of the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea on April 27, 2018. Kim Jong-un is the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. (Photo by Inter-Korean Summit / POOL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
    SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 27: South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meet at the Military Demarcation Line of the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea on April 27, 2018. Kim Jong-un is the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. (Photo by Inter-Korean Summit / POOL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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      SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - APRIL 27: South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meet at the Military Demarcation Line of the truce village of Panmunjom, South Korea on April 27, 2018. Kim Jong-un is the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. (Photo by Inter-Korean Summit / POOL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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    What happened at the third inter-Korean summit

    On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. They vowed to formally end the Korean War and seek the "complete denuclearizaiton" of the Korean Peninsula.

Next up: US President Donald Trump 

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  • How we got here

    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 traveled 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.

What you need to know 

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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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