While Americans from the president on down were preoccupied with the financial meltdown, the disarmament deal with North Korea was quietly falling apart. Actually, talks with the nuclear hermit state have been on the rocks for some time, and have only grown more complicated since Kim Jong Il went MIA.

America’s top diplomat on the case, Christopher Hill, has been dispatched to Pyongyang to try to resolve the standstill. It’s not clear what happens if North Korea says no.

AP via Google:

Hill’s trip to the capital, Pyongyang, comes amid reports that autocratic North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke in August, prompting concern that his prolonged illness could destabilize the Korean peninsula. North Korea denies that Kim, 66, is ill.

Kim’s disappearance from the public eye coincided with an about-face on the 2007 nuclear deal painstakingly negotiated among six countries — the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan.

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