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Former NBA star's lavish birthday gifts for 'friend for life' Kim Jong-un may have violated international sanctions imposed on North Korea

Jang Song Thaek, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's brother-in-law and first vice director of the Workers' Party of Korea

New N Korean leader's uncle shows intent to help

North Korea is showing the uncle of Kim Jong-un wearing a military uniform with a general's insignia – in a sign that he will play a crucial role in helping the young man to take over power and uphold the "military-first" policy initiated by his late father, Kim Jong-il.

Jang Song-thaek will be expected to coach his young nephew

Uncle Jang emerges as real power in North Korea

Late leader's brother-in-law will guide the 'Great Successor'

Peter Popham: The Arab Spring has had no effect on a country immune to outside influences

North Koreans are inculcated from infancy with the belief that the world is against them
LEE MYUNG-BAK: The South Korean President put his military on red alert after the news broke

Leading article: A new age of uncertainty in North-east Asia

Few events are potentially as destabilising for undemocratic regimes as the unexpected death of the supreme leader. As the number of totalitarian countries in the world has – mercifully – declined, so too has this understanding. But it was revived yesterday with a vengeance, after the announcement from Pyongyang that the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, had died suddenly while travelling outside the North Korean capital on his special train.

Jim Hoare: Reform would open the son to the charge of betrayal

The elite is aware of the Middle East and will ensure there is no North Korean spring

The North Korean embassy in Beijing was opened yesterday to allow mourners to enter the compound and pay their respects
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pictured in 2007

World watches for Kim Jong Il death fallout

Governments around the world were tonight watching warily developments in North Korea following the sudden death of Kim Jong Il.

It's all America's fault, says Kim in rare interview

Kim Jong-il called on the United States to end its "aggression" towards North Korea, in a rare interview published yesterday. North Korea's reclusive leader also told Itar Tass, the Russian state-owned news agency, that his country was ready to restart talks on the North's nuclear programme, in what the agency said was the eccentric dictator's first interview in nine years.

Video: Kim Jong-il in Siberia

The North Korean leader backs down over nuclear tests on a trip to Siberia.

Mystery tour for Kim Jong-il train in Russia

Kim Jong-Il and his armoured train arrived in Russia over the weekend to begin a trip shrouded in secrecy, during which he is expected to meet Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev. The North Korean leader will travel thousands of miles on the specially equipped train, and yesterday made a brief stop to tour a hydroelectric plant.

Koreas trade artillery fire near disputed border island

The two Koreas have faced off again near their disputed maritime border, the first exchange of fire since last November when the lethal shelling of a South Korean island briefly brought the Cold War enemies to the brink of war.

Lost world: Scenes from North Korea's closed society

A remarkable set of photographs by David Guttenfelder sheds rare light on one of the planet's most isolated and secretive nations

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