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While neighboring North Korea makes worldwide headlines with threats and demands, South Koreans have adjusted slightly to possible dangers, but largely carry on with their everyday lives. The war that halted in 1953 reverberates strongly today, including the continued strong presence of U.S. military forces near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas. South Koreans have rapidly become a country of digital natives, with city dwellers quickly adopting new technologies. The megacity of Seoul now has a population nearing 11 million -- more than 20 percent of the entire country, all living in one dense, sprawling city, home to highrise apartments, shamanistic shrines, and grand palaces. Collected here are recent images from South Korea. [36 photos]

A South Korean Buddhist hangs colorful lanterns to celebrate the forthcoming birthday of Buddha at the Chogye temple on May 3, 2013 in Seoul, South Korea. Buddha was born approximately 2,557 years ago, and although the exact date is unknown, Buddha's official birthday is celebrated on the full moon in May in South Korea, which is on May 17 this year. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)     

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North Korea’s dysfunctional food-distribution system, rising global commodities prices and sanctions imposed over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs had contributed to what appears to be a hunger crisis in the North, even before devastating summer floods and typhoons compounded the emergency. The regime’s appeals for massive food aid have gone mostly unanswered by a skeptical international community. Only 30 percent of a United Nations food aid target for North Korea has been met so far. Photographer Damir Sagolj went to bear witness.

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North Korea has long been enigmatic - especially to the West.  An elaborate cult of personality created around the ruling Kim family permeates both the cultural and political lives of the nation. The world's most militarized nation, it has been developing nuclear weapons and a space program.  In 2002, President George Bush labeled North Korea part of an "axis of evil," primarily due to its aggressive military posture but also because of its abysmal human rights record.   North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russia.  In an attempt to ameliorate the loss of investments due to international sanctions over its weapons program, North Korean officials have initiated a tourism push, focused on Chinese visitors.  Still, every travel group or individual visitor is constantly accompanied by one or two "guides" who normally speak the mother language of the tourist.  While some tourism has increased over the last few years, Western visitors remain scarce.  The last several photos in this post are by Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder, who offers rare glimpses of life in the shuttered country. -- Paula Nelson (54 photos total)
Rolling out the red carpet for tourists is not commonly associated with the reclusive North Korean government, but that is what workers did for the departure ceremony of Mangyongbyong cruise ship in Rason City on Aug. 30. About 130 passengers departed the rundown port of Rajin, near the China-Russia border, for the scenic Mount Kumgang resort near South Korea. North Korea's state tourism bureau has teamed up with a Chinese travel company to run the country's first ever cruise. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

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Earlier this year, David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, along with Jean H. Lee, AP bureau chief in Seoul, were granted unprecedented access to parts of North Korea as part of the AP's efforts to expand coverage of the isolated communist nation. The pair made visits to familiar sites accompanied by government minders, and were also allowed to travel into the countryside accompanied by North Korean journalists instead of government officials. Though much of what the AP journalists saw was certainly orchestrated, their access was still remarkable. Collected here are some of Guttenfelder's images from the trip that provide a glimpse of North Korea. [37 photos]

A view of central Pyongyang, North Korea, at dusk on April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

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