While in Asia, US Secretary of State limiting reporters' access

That escalated quickly into the death of two American GIs by ax-wielding North Korean soldiers.

For sure, the Demilitarized Zone that divides the Koreas is one of most volatile strips of Cold War-style weirdness left on the planet. We are exploring a new range of security and diplomatic measures.

"All of the options are on the table", Tillerson said during a press conference in Seoul.

President Trump has accused North Korea of "behaving very badly" as he said the country had been "playing" the United States for years. The release of the State Department's annual human rights report, traditionally one of the most important moments of the year for the cabinet agency, turned into an embarrassment two weeks ago.

In a tweet posted on Friday Mr Trump added that China has done "little to help!"

So does Trump have some new formula for success?

Tillerson's remarks came a day after he said in Tokyo that 20 years of efforts to denuclearise the North had "failed" and promised a new approach, without giving specifics.

There's nothing new about the idea that the US would defend South Korea against an attack from the North. It was Gerald Ford who ordered "Operation Paul Bunyan", the massive show of force that followed the ax murder incident in 1976. U.S. officials say Tillerson is expected to tell the Chinese leadership that the United States plans to increase missile defences in the region, despite China's opposition. North Korea claims it tested a "miniaturized" nuclear device that security experts fear is harder to detect.

Hwang stressed that Tillerson's visit to Seoul underscores the importance of the close-knit partnership between the allies.

Tensions between North and South Korea, have run even higher than the historical norm since the apparentassassination of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But Mr Tillerson, in Seoul yesterday, spoke about a military option while US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday ruled out going back to the six-party talks - negotiations that involved China, the US, North and South Korea, Japan and Russian Federation from 2003 to 2009 - saying "been there, done that".

North Korea has a long-standing ambition to be recognised as a nuclear power, saying it needs to be able to defend itself, and conducted its first underground atomic test in 2006, in the teeth of global opposition.

His visit to Seoul is also timed with the deepening spat between South Korea and China over the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad).

Tillerson called on China, one of North Korea's only allies, to refrain from economic retaliations against South Korea for deploying an advanced USA missile defense system - known as THAAD - on its soil because of threats from Pyongyang.

"That encouragement has been met with further development of nuclear capabilities, more missile launches, including those of the recent February 11th and March the 5th".

  • Leroy Wright