23.8 C
New York

Friday Briefing: Will North Korea Attack?


North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, could take some form of lethal military action against South Korea in the coming months after having shifted his policy to one of open hostility, U.S. officials say.

The officials have assessed that Kim’s recent declarations have been more aggressive than previous statements and should be taken seriously, but U.S. agencies have not detected concrete signs that North Korea is gearing up for combat or a major war.

Kim could carry out strikes in a way he thinks would avoid rapid escalation, U.S. officials said, such as when the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010. The two sides exchanged artillery fire, resulting in the reported deaths of troops on both sides and of civilians in the South, but both militaries soon stopped.

The Biden administration has been trying since 2021 to persuade North Korea to engage in diplomacy. But, one former intelligence analyst said, Kim felt betrayed and humiliated by Donald Trump during the failed diplomacy of 2019.

Background: On Wednesday, the North fired several cruise missiles from its west coast into the sea, the South Korean military said. On Jan. 14, Kim’s government said that it had tested a solid-fuel intermediate-range missile with a hypersonic warhead. And on Jan. 5, his military shelled waters near South Korean islands. Kim also abandoned a longtime official goal of peaceful reunification with South Korea, the state news media announced on Jan. 16.

William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, is going to Europe in the coming days. He is expected to meet with senior Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials to try to advance talks over the release of hostages held in Gaza and a longer cease-fire, according to U.S. officials.

Here’s the latest.

U.S. officials said Israel was now pushing a proposal of a 60-day pause in the fighting in exchange for a phased release of hostages, creating a new opening for negotiations. Any new deal is likely to include phased releases, though the White House is hoping that a bigger deal leading to the release of the remaining hostages might be possible.

Aid: Families of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza protested yesterday at a border crossing, above, in a bid to to block aid from entering the territory.

Analysis: As the war in Gaza continues, there is increasing talk of some “day after” formula for the broken territory. But that notion seems ever distant.

A hunt for truth: The Israel-Hamas conflict has produced a prodigious amount of disinformation, putting people who fact-check claims, especially those who live in the region, on their heels.

A person struck a South Korean lawmaker, Bae Hyunjin, in the head with a blunt object in Seoul yesterday, causing injuries that were not life-threatening, according to her staff and physicians.

A suspect was detained at the scene and was being investigated by police, according to Yonhap, a South Korean news agency. Bae, a first-term member of the ruling People Power Party, is the second South Korean politician to be physically assaulted in public this month. On Jan. 2, a man stabbed Lee Jae-myung, the main opposition leader, in the neck. Lee was hospitalized and later released.

Yang Jaeyu, Bae’s chief of staff, said that the attacker asked, “Are you the People Power Party lawmaker Bae Hyunjin?” twice before striking her with what the aide called a “rocklike object.”

The sprawling and violent world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was a complicated indulgence for a teenager who was Black and a devout Muslim, writes Jamal Michel, a guest columnist.

The series overall is known for having a polarizing relationship with race, sex and violence. As Michel looks back on playing the game now, on its 20th anniversary, he realizes how important it was to him. He loved the escape — even if he wishes San Andreas had more grace for its Black characters beyond stereotypical antics.

Lives lived: John Pilger, a muckraking journalist who was best known for a documentary about the Khmer Rouge’s genocide in Cambodia, died at 84.

Reid Souther, a movie concept artist, and Gary Marcus, a professor emeritus at New York University and an expert on artificial intelligence, conducted a series of tests to see if A.I. image generators like Midjourney were exploiting protected material.

They found that Midjourney produced an image of Joaquin Phoenix in “The Joker” that was nearly identical to an image from the 2019 film. “Videogame hedgehog” returned Sonic, Sega’s wisecracking protagonist. “Animated toys” produced Woody, Buzz and other characters from Pixar’s “Toy Story,” and “popular movie screencap” produced Iron Man, the Marvel character, in a familiar pose.

The tests, which were replicated by other artists and by reporters at The New York Times, raise questions about the training data used to create every A.I. system and whether the companies are violating copyright laws.

Related articles

Recent articles