News North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks past his uncle Jang Song Thaek - Jang Song Thaek is reported to have been executed for 'attempting to overthrow the state'

Claims that secretive communist regime has carried out a further brutal purge of those the young leader sees as a threat to his authority

Postcard from... Berlin

Communist East Germany may have been killed off with the fall of the Berlin Wall 23 years ago, but its products live on – and on. Some 90,000 former East German citizens queued up in freezing temperatures over the weekend to get into east Berlin's Yuletide phenomenon for insiders – a Christmas market dedicated to selling “Ossiware” – goods that were being produced in East Germany before 1989 and still are.

Kim Jong-Un is the Onion's Sexiest Man Alive for 2012, seriously

In possibly the most hilarious example of Communist-autocratic self-delusion yet to come from modern China, the online version of the Chinese Communist Party's official news paper has fallen for a massive, giant, unspeakably hilarious send-up in satirical magazine The Onion. The People's Daily ran a 55-page photo spread of North Korean dictator and chubby chops Kim Jong Un, oblivious to the fact that when The Onion declared him their Sexiest Man Alive for 2012, they had tongue firmly pressed into cheek. Here's a little snippet. Can you spot the satire?

Tangachai -ri space centre, North Korea

South Korea says North preparing new rocket launch

With fresh satellite images showing increasing activity at its launch site, North Korea could be ready to fire a long-range rocket within several weeks, South Korean officials said Tuesday.

Li Keqiang, set to become China's premier

Li Keqiang urges deeper urbanization to support China's growth

Li Keqiang, set to become China's premier in March, said the nation must deepen its rural-urban population shift to support growth while avoiding the economic stagnation associated with middle-income countries.

Sun Chunlan is one of only two women in the 25-strong Politburo

China's most powerful woman - but how far can Sun Chunlan go?

Critics claim seat at Communist Party's all-male top table will remain closed to new chief of key province

Postcard from... Berlin

The Sex Pistols made a deep impression on Frank Willmann. He first listened to their music at home in communist East Germany at the age of 14. By the time he was 17, he belonged to the group of around 900 East German punks who were subjected to almost daily humiliation and insults from the regular police, the Stasi, and ordinary citizens. “We were banned from all the pubs, discos and youth clubs and on the street we were called scroungers,” he recalls.

Ikea used forced prison labour to make furniture

Ikea, the Swedish furniture giant whose flat-pack offerings grace homes from Bolton to Bangkok, has admitted that East German political prisoners had been used to make its goods for as long as three decades.

Postcard from... Berlin

A Russian MP has waded into a heated political row over the future of Adolf Hitler's birthplace by offering to buy up and demolish the Austrian townhouse in which the Nazi leader was born more than a century ago.

Page 3 Profile: Xi Jinping, Chinese Politician

The new President of China?

Free Tibet: teenage monks and woman in self-immolation protest for congress

Three teenage Tibetan monks and a woman set fire to themselves to protest Chinese rule on the eve of a pivotal Communist Party congress, activists said today.

Soldiers march in Beijing below a portrait of Mao Zedong

China’s top brass promise crackdown after Bo Xilai scandal

Vow comes on eve of crucial meeting to select country’s leaders for the next decade

Postcard from... Beijing

A short episode of Han Suyin's life story became the William Holden-Jennifer Jones romance epic Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, but the Chinese-born writer, who died last week, aged 95, was a true original who witnessed modern Asia in the making and wrote 40 books on modern China.

The Communist elite has endorsed the expulsion of politician Bo Xilai

Bo expelled as party cleans up for handover

The ruling Communist elite has endorsed the expulsion of the disgraced politician Bo Xilai and approved final preparations for the party's forthcoming Congress.

Can Xi Jinping save China from itself?

If you're interested in the direction of the 21st century, clearly the biggest political event taking place over the next few weeks is happening on November 8th. Not, not the American election. That's November 6th. We're talking about the ascension of Xi Jinping to the position of chief of China's ruling Communist Party, which means that he'll be President of China come March. That's a big deal. In their top leader this week, the super-brains of the Economist - where the average staff age, by the way, is 28 - explain why.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
Lisbon, Oporto and the Douro Valley
Lake Garda, Venice & Verona
Spain
Prices correct as of 23 January 2015
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project