U.S. eyes N.Korea talks if missile tests end

Parasites are reportedly widespread in North Korea and can often be the result of consuming vegetables fertilised with human faeces.

South Korean surgeons operating on a North Korean defector who ran across the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries under a hail of gunfire on Monday have found a parasite in the man's stomach unlike any other they had seen.

North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States, sparking a major global crisis in which US President Donald Trump has said all options are under consideration, including military ones. "The parasite infection problem seems to be serious even if it does not represent the entire North Korean population".

Parasitic worms were also once common in South Korea 40 to 50 years ago, Lee noted during his briefing, but have all but disappeared as economic conditions greatly improved.

Lee Min-bok, a North Korean agriculture expert, said: "Chemical fertiliser was supplied by the state until the 1970s, but from the early 1980s, production started to decrease".

About one in four North Korean children grow to be shorter than their South Korean counterparts, according to the World Food Programme.

Representatives from South Korea and the USA agreed yesterday to keep working for a peaceful end to the North Korean nuclear crisis, but a U.S. envoy said it was hard to gauge the reclusive North's intentions as there has been "no signal".

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"He has everything that he could have", Lee said.

An official from South Korea's top spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers on Thursday that North Korea has not secured the key technologies needed to build a ballistic missile that can survive a return through the atmosphere, the Yonhap news agency reported yesterday, citing a "parliamentary source".

Imported corn, which is less preferred but cheaper to obtain than rice, has tended to increase in years when North Koreans are more anxious about their seasonal harvests.

Visiting Seoul last week, US President Donald Trump warned North Korea he was prepared to use the full range of American military power to stop any attack, but also urged Pyongyang to "make a deal".

Despite the drought and global sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear programme, the cost of corn and rice has remained relatively stable, according to a Reuters analysis of market data collected by the defector-run Daily NK website.

The New York Times says the Trump administration is devising a new strategy on blocking North Korea's missiles before they get far from Korean airspace.

  • Megan Austin