Congress passes new North Korea sanctions bill

This photo carried by the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, on May 5, 2017, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (C) inspecting military detachments on two islets in waters off the country's southwest front.

A similar charge was laid against Pyongyang by Seoul in February following the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, allegedly at the hands of North Korean agents.

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea", Trump said.

For South Koreans living next door to a hostile, nuclear-armed state that regularly threatens their annihilation, their vote in Tuesday's presidential election likely will be based in part on each candidate's plan for how to handle North Korea.

Chinese suggestions that the North give up its weapons crossed a "red line" and were "ego-driven theory based on big-power chauvinism" said the article, bylined "Kim Chol" - believed to be a pseudonym. The North's leader is surrounded by tight security at all times, and Pyongyang maintains a enormous surveillance system over its own population that is ingrained at every level of society, where open dissent is unknown.

According to the report, a North Korean citizen was involved in the plot "using biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance" to kill off the leader.

Kim - described as "human scum" - received payments totalling at least $740,000 and was given satellite transceivers and other materials and equipment, it said.

South Koreans continue to protest against the deployment of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) in their country.

On Friday, China responded to the events in the U.S. Congress by saying it supported United Nations Security Council resolutions but opposed the imposition of "unilateral sanctions".

For the US' part, it continues to be hard to pin down exactly what the Trump administration's foreign policy goals for North Korea, or indeed, the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

China vowed to remain a good neighbor to North Korea on Thursday, despite a rare and stinging critique in Pyongyang's state media of its main diplomatic protector and economic benefactor.

The Senate must take up the measure next. The North believes the US and South are seeking to assassinate Kim, said Professor Koh Yu-Hwan of Dongguk University.

It was "unimaginable that individuals can get close enough to Kim to harm him in light of supertight security there", he told AFP.

"Powerful states may have greater influence over the global situation, but they should also bear the consequences of what they say or do", Fu wrote.

The drill was particularly disturbing for South Koreans who remember a failed attempt by North Korean commandos in 1968 to assassinate then dictator Park Chung-hee, the father of Park Geun-hye.

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