The cast of the high-stakes diplomacy between US and North Korea

(Clockwise from top left) South Korea's President Moon Jae In, China's President Xi Jinping, US national security adviser John Bolton, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
(Clockwise from top left) South Korea's President Moon Jae In, China's President Xi Jinping, US national security adviser John Bolton, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.PHOTOS: EPA-EFE/REUTERS/AFP/BLOOMBERG
If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) sits down with US President Donald Trump, it will the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a serving US President.
If North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) sits down with US President Donald Trump, it will the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a serving US President.PHOTOS: AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threw down the gauntlet in his New Year address last year by announcing that his country is close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US.

It did - with not one but three ICBM tests that year. Since then, it has been a roller-roaster ride not only for the two main protagonists, Pyongyang and Washington, but also the rest of the world as the two Cold War rivals traded insults and came dangerously close to blows.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 27, 2018, with the headline 'The cast'. Print Edition | Subscribe