North Korea

Updated at 1:08 p.m. ET

After keeping the world waiting and watching, first for a "Christmas present" to the U.S., and then for a New Year's shift to a harder line on nuclear negotiations, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivered neither.

Some analysts believe a key reason behind his calculations may be President Trump's prospects for surviving an impeachment process and possibly winning a second term in the White House.

In a speech to a plenary session of the ruling Workers Party Central Committee, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says he no longer feels bound by a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, which has held for the past two years. However, he stopped short of saying he was breaking off nuclear negotiations with the U.S., nor did he formally announce a shift to a more hard-line policy.

The official Korean Central News Agency carried Kim's remarks to the Party Plenum, which has been held in Pyongyang over the past four days (Saturday through Tuesday).

President Trump did not seem concerned Tuesday when asked about the threat of a "Christmas present" from North Korea if the U.S. doesn't roll back economic sanctions on the country by the end of the year.

"Maybe it's a nice present," Trump told reporters at an event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. "Maybe it's a present where he sends me a beautiful vase, as opposed to a missile test."

In what could be a reference to a new missile test, North Korea is threatening to give the U.S. a "Christmas gift" unless Washington abides by an end-of-year deadline set by Pyongyang for concessions in exchange for a possible deal to curb its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea accused the U.S. of stalling on diplomatic efforts between the two countries because of the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday — possibly from a submarine — just days ahead of the expected resumption of nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea after a seven-month hiatus.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says the missile was fired from waters off the peninsula's east coast, near the port city of Wonsan, and traveled about 280 miles to the east before landing in the Sea of Japan.

South Korea's National Security Council standing committee held a meeting after the test and voiced its "strong concern."

It's no secret that former national security adviser John Bolton did not see eye to eye with President Trump on a whole range of subjects.

But in his first public remarks since his ouster earlier this month, Bolton made clear just how deeply disconnected he was from his former boss on how to handle North Korea.

North Korea has reportedly conducted a third test launch in just over a week, firing what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, according to South Korean officials.

The presidential office in Seoul said the South Korean and U.S. militaries believe the test involved short-range ballistic missiles. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that they flew about 137 miles and reached an altitude of 15 miles, traveling at the hypersonic speed of Mach 6.9.

The United States is trying again to persuade North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

A senior U.S. official tells NPR that U.S. diplomats are communicating with the reclusive regime. They are passing messages through North Korea's mission to the United Nations in New York.

Two key Asian leaders — both of whom President Trump has been trying to negotiate deals with — will meet Thursday, when Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel to North Korea for the first time as president, Chinese and North Korean state media report.

The two-day visit was prompted by an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

The meeting comes just days before Trump and Xi are supposed to meet at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

There's an evening show on North Korea's state TV that brings soldiers news from their hometowns.

Last September, the show on the regime-run Korean Central Television, or KCTV, was interrupted for an urgent update.

"Another piece of news from our families on the homefront, just in from the Kangson steel factory," an announcer says.

"Soldiers from Kangson will be happy to hear that," the anchor replies, beaming.

The update: A soldier's father says he and fellow factory workers are so motivated that they will beat production targets by 50%.

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