Stopping North Korea's nuclear program is the thorniest foreign policy problem for the U.S. president in the new year, but then again, the same was true a year ago. What has changed in 2017 is North Korea's capability and the United States' approach.
Kim Jong Un begins each year with a New Year's Day address. This year, it began with a note that his military "entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile." President-elect Donald Trump responded with a tweet saying, "It won't happen!"
As we look back on the year, Kim was the one who delivered on his promise. And he did so by July 4 — American Independence Day — with a successful test of an ICBM.
The crisis mounted and then abated afterward. Remember Trump's "fire and fury"? And Kim's plan to bracket Guam with missiles? By Aug. 29, North Korea detonated a nuclear bomb that analysts believe was 10 times more powerful than the last test, a year prior.
"Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un are like professional wrestlers who go round after round, with plenty of trash talk ... but never really come to blows," writes John Delury, an associate professor at Yonsei University Graduate School of International Studies in Seoul. "But then we remember that these two characters are commanders in chief of real armies. ... In these conditions of mutual hostility and ignorance, things could go wrong, fast."