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South Korean trade officials braved snowstorms, ate instant noodles to save time and spent weeks hotel-hopping in Washington as they raced to overcome major trade hurdles with their U.S. ally ahead of high-stakes nuclear discussions with North Korea.

What was meant to be a weeklong trip to Washington stretched into a four-week marathon, as dozens of Seoul officials sought to wrap up talks aimed at amending the six-year-old U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement known as KORUS, according to several South Korean officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

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