Some fast facts about North Korea

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 2:05 PM

As tensions ramp up near the Korean Peninsula, here is a primer on North Korea, its leader and its people.

Some facts

The name: North Korea -- or formally, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea -- borders China, Russia and South Korea.

Population: 25,115,311 (estimated as of July 2016)

Area: North Korea is a little bigger than Virginia, with 46,000 square miles.

Capital: The capital city is Pyongyang. An interesting fact: Pyongyang runs on its own time zone. It’s about 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea.

No ties: North Korea does not have diplomatic representation in the United States, nor does the U.S. have diplomatic representation in North Korea.

Median age: North Korea’s median age is estimated to be 33.8 years.

GNP: The gross domestic product, per capita, is $1,800. In the U.S., it’s $51,638.10

Leaders: North Korea is led by Kim Jong-Un. Since 1945, the country has been led by three generations of the same family: Kim Il-Sung, in 1945; then his son, Kim Jong-Il, upon his father’s death in 1994; then the current leader, Kim Jong-Un, upon his father’s death in 2011.

Why are there two Koreas?
From 1910 until the end of World War II, Japan controlled the Korean Peninsula. After the Japanese lost the war, the U.S. occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Russians occupied the north half. 

In 1945, Kim Il-Sung became the country’s first leader. In 1948, separate governments -- one in the north and one in the south -- formed after regional differences went unresolved.

On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations intervened with troops, and the “police action” (another name for a war), continued until 1953. 

After a peace treaty was brokered, the country broke into two countries. South Korea becomes a prosperous capitalist nation, while North Korea remains a poor country.

Why are tensions high now?
The leaders of the country have vowed to test and threatened to use nuclear weapons. The North Korean military has tested nuclear missiles on at least five occasions -- twice in 2016.

Can they attack nearby countries with nuclear weapons?
They can when they make a warhead small enough to be delivered on a missile that is fired at an enemy. North Korea says it has done that, but there has been no verification of that by the U.N. or other countries.

What are their neighbors doing?
The U.S. has given South Korea an advanced missile defense system. Japan has put its military on high alert. China, which is an ally of North Korea, has warned North Korean officials to step back from provocative actions.

Interesting facts about the country
  • USA Today reports that North Koreans born after the Korean War tend to be shorter than South Koreans of the same age. About 2 inches shorter, in fact. 
  • According to The Chosun Ilbo, men are encouraged to copy the hairstyle of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un. No long hair. Women should copy the style of his wife, he reportedly said.
  • North Korea claims it has a 100 percent literacy rate for both men and women, according to the CIA World Factbook.
  • Only 3 percent of the roads in North Korea are paved. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • You cannot become a citizen of North Korea unless one of your parents is a citizen. (CIA World Factbook.)
  • The last election was held in the country on March 9, 2014. Kim Jong-Il won 100 percent of the vote. The next one is scheduled for March 2019.

World’s largest Starbucks to set up shop on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 7:37 AM

Starbucks will open a Reserve Roastery in Chicago in 2019.
Starbucks

Chicago’s swanky Magnificent Mile will soon have a mega jolt of caffeine as Starbucks announces plans to open the world largest coffee shop of its brand.

The chain announced this week that it will open Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago in 2019, WMAQ reported.

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The North Michigan Avenue business will be four stories tall and will be a “full sensorial coffee environment dedicated to roasting, brewing and packaging its rare, small-batch Starbucks Reserve coffees from around the world,” according to a press release from Starbucks.

The 43,000-square-foot Starbucks will open in the building currently holding a Crate and Barrel at Michigan Avenue and Erie Street.

It is the third roastery in the U.S. The first is in Seattle and opened in 2014. The second is scheduled to open in New York City next year. There are roasteries planned for Shanghai, Milan and Tokyo.

Check your change jar for rare penny worth up to $85,000 

Published: Wednesday, April 26, 2017 @ 7:23 PM

A rare coin, the 1943 copper wheat penny, also known as the Wheat Cent, is worth a pretty penny these days, selling for up to $85,000 at auction.

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That’s according to the online coin value service CoinTrackers, which said the pennies are so valuable because so few were made and they were released by mistake.

The Wheat Cent is made mostly from copper, but steel versions were issued during World War II, CoinTrackers said on its website. Because the 1943 coin was mistakenly minted of copper instead of steel and released, its value skyrocketed.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

Coin experts have suggested the mistake occurred when copper plates were either tested or left among the steel plates from 1942, KTRK-TV reported.

A penny worth $85,000 may sound astronomical, but consider that in 2012 a 1943 Lincoln penny sold for $1 million at auction.

 

Firefighters rescue woman clinging to top of crane

Published: Thursday, April 27, 2017 @ 8:02 AM

A woman is rescued from a downtown Toronto crane early Wednesday, April 26, 2017. Some streets in the downtown core were closed as dozens of construction workers and commuters gazed skyward to watch police and firefighters try to rescue the woman who got stuck atop the tall construction crane. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/AP

A woman in Toronto can thank firefighters for getting her down from a precarious perch.

She had climbed a construction crane but then needed firefighters help getting down.

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When rescue crews arrived, she had been clinging on to a steel cable for at least four hours, The Associated Press reported.

Crews strapped her to a firefighter who rappelled, bringing her safely to the ground.

Officials do not know why the unnamed woman decided to climb the large crane, without the aid of safety equipment, in the middle of the night. She faces a mischief charge for her death-defying climb, The AP reported.

United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from plane

Published: Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 10:31 AM



Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

United Airlines will no longer allow crew members to bump passengers already on board flights after facing heavy criticism for its removal of a Kentucky physician earlier this month.

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The policy change came after video surfaced on social media of officers with the Chicago Department of Aviation dragging Dr. David Dao off Flight 3411 after he declined to relinquish his seat to make room for a crew member.

Dao’s attorney said last week that the confrontation left Dao with a broken nose and a severe concussion. Two of his front teeth were knocked out and he was hospitalized for three days.

>> Related: United passenger suffered broken nose, teeth while being dragged from plane

The change was outlined in an internal email on April 14, The Associated Press reported. Crew members are required to make “must-ride bookings” at least an hour before the flight is scheduled to leave, according to the AP. The airline previously allowed crew members to make bookings until the time of departure.

A spokesperson for United confirmed the policy update to NPR, saying it “ensures situations like Flight 3411 never happen again.” 

"This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies in order to deliver the best customer experience," the spokesperson told NPR.

>> Related: Delta will now pay passengers up to $9,950 to give up seats

United is not the only airline that has adjusted its policies in the wake of the dragging incident.

Delta Air Lines updated its financial incentive policy to offer up to $9,950 to passengers who volunteer to give up their seats on overbooked flights. American Airlines changed its conditions of carriage and said it would not “involuntarily remove a passenger who has already boarded,” The Washington Post reported.