In an unusually direct appeal to the leader of isolated North Korea, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Kim Jong-un to reverse the course of his father and transform North Korea into a modern democratic nation.

This young man, should he make a choice that would help bring North Korea into the 21st century, could go down in history as a transformative leader. Or he can continue the model of the past, Clinton told reporters, under fears that the young North Korean president will simply maintain the repressive policies of Kim Jong-Il. 

At some point, people cannot live under such oppressive conditions -- starving to death, being put into gulags and having their basic human rights denied, she added. So we are hoping that [Jong-un] will chart a different course for his people.

South Korea and the West are concerned that North Korea is determined to develop nuclear weapons, having already launched a (failed) long-range rocket in April.