When Mike Pompeo meets Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang this week, he will reportedly attempt to smooth a path towards denuclearisation with a gift that playfully references a low point in relations between the North Korean leader and Donald Trump: a CD of Elton John's Rocket Man.
For South Korean President Moon Jae-in, there is real reason to worry.
For the past 680 days, around 200 villagers have been taking shifts around the clock to try to block USA vehicles traveling to the battery site.
He will spend the night in the North Korean capital, marking his first overnight stay in the country. That would in turn cause major problems for Moon Jae-in whose sky-high approval ratings can in part be attributed to his savvy handling of both Trump and Kim Jong Un.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo boards a plane at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on Thursday.
"THAAD can work as a leverage against China, because the more China cooperates with North Korea's denuclearization, the more likely they can say goodbye to THAAD", said Yang.
The newspaper explained anonymous diplomatic sources in D.C. told them the two leaders discussed the "Rocket Man" nickname Mr. Trump gave to Mr. Kim, and the North Korean leader said he never heard the song.
Kim Yong Chol welcomed Pompeo to North Korea, noting that it was his third visit to the country. "The Blue House is not quite sure which side represents President Trump's mind". Following a summit in Singapore between the notorious leaders last month, Trump has delivered an unusual gift to Kim Jong Un - a copy of Elton John's "Rocket Man".
However, the USA department of state said this did not represent any easing on its stance toward denuclearization.
He said relations between the US and North Korea have "dramatically shifted" in North Korea's favor over the past few months. The issues are deeply interlinked.
"Minister Kang will listen to the outcome of Secretary Pompeo's North Korea trip and hold in-depth discussions on ways to achieve the goals of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the establishment of permanent peace", the statement said. Moon Jae-in himself met with his North Korean counterpart on April 27 in the demilitarized zone that divides the peninsula.
For Moon, a return to 2017, when the North's nuclear and missile tests and Trump's bombastic tweets raised animosity on the Korean Peninsula to new heights, would be very hard to swallow.
North Koreans cheer as they watch a friendly basketball game between South and North players.
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Though it has only slipped slightly at the moment, polling experts suggest that things could get far worse. "I expect that the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] is ready to do the same", Nauert said earlier. "If that relationship collapses, it will probably precipitously go down".
South Korean workers began commuting to the North Korean border town of Kaesong this week to fix a building at a closed factory park where the rivals plan to set up a liaison office.
At the world team championships in May, North and South Korea were due to face each other in the women's quarter-finals - but they were given permission to form a joint team instead, losing to Japan in the semi-finals.