Experts say sanctions and a dismal economy have resulted in lack of development in the pariah country which in turn may have unintentionally helped with habitat conservation.
Stories of Koreans separated by the border splitting the peninsula have been common since the 1950 war tore apart hundreds of thousands of families.
Vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Jay Y Lee walked free after being detained for a year over bribery charges. He had initially been sentenced to five years in prison.
Talks at the border village of Panmunjom focus on appearances by North Korea's state-run artistic performers and when and where in South Korea they would perform, officials say.
South Korean Unification Minister Cho offered high-ranking government talks with the North next week, a day after Pyongyang said it was open for talks despite sticking to its nuclear ambitions.
The North Korean leader says he intends to send a delegation to Winter Olympics in South Korea with an aim to improve ties with the neighbouring rival.
With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang less than two months away, rising tensions with North and South Korea show their impact on the games. Seoul is taking extra measures to try to ensure the safety of the olympics.
The largest-ever joint aerial drills on Monday come amid heightened tensions a week after North Korea says it tested its most advanced missile.
"If war comes, make no mistake: The North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed," US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley tells the UN Security Council convened after Pyongyang launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday.
South Korean court says Samsung's Jay Y Lee had given bribes to win former president's support. He was convicted of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight and perjury.
South Korea is waiting for a response from North Korea over talks to resume family reunions. But for many of those waiting to again be with their loved ones, time is running out.
South Korea's citizens living close to the border with North Korea have underground shelters for safety in case war breaks out. But in capital Seoul, subway stations and parking garages serve as shelters.
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