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North Korea launches 'ballistic missile submarine'

File photo: A soviet-era Russian Golf II diesel ballistic missile submarine. Credit: Creative Commons/Wikipedia

North Korea has launched a Soviet-era Russian submarine capable of firing intercontinental ballistic missiles, South Korean state media has reported.

The communist country "imported a Soviet-era Golf-class diesel submarine and modified it," a government source reportedly told the Yonhap New Agency on condition of anonymity.

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North and South Korea exchange gunfire on border

Soldiers from the North Korean army. Credit: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

North and South Korea exchanged gunfire when the North's soldiers approached the military border and did not retreat after the South fired warning shots, South Korean officials said.

The North's soldiers fired back in an exchange of gunfire that lasted about 10 minutes but the situation did not escalate. "There were no casualties or property damage," a military official said.

The incident was the latest in a series of confrontations in recent weeks between the two countries and follows an urgent meeting between senior military officials on Wednesday to discuss how to ease tensions.

The two Koreas are expected to hold a high-level meeting soon.

Kim Jong Un 'makes first public appearance in weeks'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his first public appearance in several weeks, state media has reported.

The 31-year-old's prolonged absence from public view had fuelled speculation over his health as well as his grip on power in the secretive nation.

Kim was shown visiting a newly-built residential district and a scientific establishment, according to the report.

Rumours continue to circulate over Kim Jong Un

A pattern of non-appearances has raised concerns about the where-abouts, and well-being, of North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-Un.

Explanations have ranged from diet and too much Swiss cheese, to a straight-forward coup.

He's not been seen in public for more than 5 weeks and today he failed to appear at a major national event.

It could all have an impact on relations with China, his longtime ally and supporter.

ITV News China correspondent Lucy Watson reports.

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White House: North Korea coup rumours 'false'

Credit: Reuters

The United States says it is monitoring events regarding the health of Kim Jong Un but has played down rumours of a military coup in North Korea

Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the US National Security Council, said the United States monitored events in North Korea extremely closely and had seen the reports about Kim Jong Un's health, but played down speculation about upheaval in the country.

Given that the (North Korean) regime isn't the most opaque on earth, it's not surprising that there is very little reliable and publicly available information about this.

Regarding rumours of a coup, as we have said previously, those appear to be false.

– Patrick Ventrell,

The absence of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un from the ruling Workers' Party 69th anniversary celebrations earlier this week has further fuelled speculation around his health and his positionas supreme leader in the beleaguered state.

South Korea navy fires on North Korean patrol boat

A South Korean naval ship fired warning shots after a North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed sea border off the peninsula's west coast and fired shots back before retreating, a South Korean defence official said.

There were no casualties on the South Korean side, he told Reuters.

The area has been the scene of clashes in the past that killed scores of sailors on both sides, with North Korean vessels frequently crossing the so-called Northern Limit Line, which it refuses to recognise as a maritime border.

North Korea agrees to new talks on rare trip to South

North Korea's Hwang Pyong-So attends the Asian Games closing ceremony. Credit: REUTERS/Jason Reed

North Korean officials visiting the South in a surprise trip have agreed to a second round of high-level talks.

The agreement came after the country's unofficial second most important leader after Kim Jong-un on a rare trip to South Korea for the close of the Asian Games.

The North Korean delegation was led by Hwang Pyong-So, the top political officer for the Korean People's Army. The rivals held their highest level face-to-face talks in five years.

Kim Jong Un suffering 'discomfort', North Korea confirms

North Korea has confirmed that leader Kim Jong Un is suffering with "discomfort" after speculation over his recent absence from public engagements.

Observers speculate Kim may be suffering gout. Credit: Reuters

The 31-year-old has not been photographed by state media for more than three weeks, and had been seen walking with a limp since an event in July.

He appeared to have difficulty walking in a pre-recorded documentary released by state media yesterday, which thanked the leader for his "painstaking efforts... despite suffering discomfort".

The documentary was followed by a pre-recorded broadcast of a North Korean Supreme People's Assembly meeting from which Kim Jong Un was notably absent.

Kim has rapidly gained weight since his father's death propelled him to leadership in 2011, and observers have speculated that he may be suffering gout due to his diet and family history.

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