President Obama says the United States and South Korea are determined to stand firm against North Korean threats and that the days of Pyongyang manufacturing a crisis to get international concessions "are over."
In a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Tuesday, Obama said the two leaders "very much share the view that we are going to maintain a strong deterrent" against North Korea.
"We're not going to reward provocative behavior, but we remain open to the prospect of North Korea taking a peaceful path," he said.
State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell raised concerns about the lack of transparency in Kenneth Bae's trial and urged North Korea to him "amnesty and immediate release."
NPR's Michele Kelemen reports that Ventrell wouldn't say whether the U.S. was considering sending a high-level envoy to Pyongyang as it has done in the past to win the release of U.S. citizens in North Korea.
Sokeel Park sees the effects of North Korea's repressive government every day. He lives in South Korea, but works for an NGO named Liberty in North Korea. His job is to debrief those who've managed to leave the North and help them start new lives in the South.
Park says that with so much focus on the country's nuclear weapons and leadership, it's easy to forget about the 24 million people going about their everyday lives. Those lives are heavily controlled by the North Korean government, citizens are told where to work, where to live, and are not allowed to leave.
Here in the U.S., the largest Korean population is in California. It's actually the largest concentration outside of northeast Asia. People in that community have been especially alarmed by North Korea's recent threats. But as Doualy Xaykaothao reports from Los Angeles, many Koreans living there think the North's provocations are mostly bluster.
North Korea has accused an American tourist of committing crimes against the state and trying to bring down the country's regime, according to the North's official news agency.
The KCNA said Saturday that 44-year-old Kenneth Bae, imprisoned since November, confessed to the crimes and would be facing judgement in a North Korean court. He is identified in the report by his Korean name, Pae Jun Ho.