North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd during a military parade above Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang on July 27, 2013. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korean rhetoric in the run-up to this year's joint military exercises between South Korea and the United States has been more restrained than usual. Last week the North Korean government, headed by leader Kim Jong Un, issued an open letter to the South urging improved relations and complaining that the military exercises are an obstacle to better ties.
The North also agreed to a South Korean proposal to resume family reunions, which have been suspended since 2010. But South Korean and U.S. officials reacted skeptically to the North's charm offensive, worrying that it is a deception and a prelude to a resumption of provocations.
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