Kim Jong-un reportedly ordered the execution of party official Jang Song-thaek. But why did the young leader turn on his uncle and mentor?
Fashion magazine ELLE has been forced to issue an apology after branding military trends 'North Korea Chic'.
North Korea has marked the 65th anniversary of its founding with a military parade in Pyongyang.
The United States welcomed North Korea's decision to release American citizen Merrill Newman, who was detained by North Korean authorities in late October on a visit as a tourist to the secretive country, the State Department said in a statement.
"We are pleased that Mr. Merrill Newman has been allowed to depart the DPRK and re-join his family. We welcome the DPRK's decision to release him," said Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman.
North Korea said on it has deported Merrill E. Newman, an 85-year old American it has been holding on charges of "hostile acts" against the state, on humanitarian grounds because he has admitted to his wrongdoing and apologised.
The deportation was announced by the North's KCNA news agency.
Mr Newman, who has a soldier during the 1950-53 Korean War and worked with guerrillas fighting against the socialist North, has been held by the Pyongyang regime since late October. He was visiting North Korea as a tourist.
Amnesty International has called on North Korea to acknowledge and close political prison camps.
The camps are a gruesome and powerful tool at the heart of a vast network of repression.
People are sent to the political prison camps without charge, let alone a trial, many of them simply for knowing someone who has fallen out of favour.
– Amnesty International’s North Korea Researcher Rajiv Narayan
Conditions are dire. Torture is rampant, there are reports that women are raped, and we know that public execution is common place. Many of the prisoners die of malnutrition and overwork in dangerous conditions.
We are calling on the North Korean authorities to acknowledge the existence of the camps, close them, and grant unhindered access to independent human rights monitors like Amnesty International.
New satellite images show the expansion of North Korea's prison camps where "torture is rampant, women are raped and public execution is common place", Amnesty International said.
A former security official at one of the prison camps told Amnesty that detainees were forced to dig their own graves and women were raped by visiting officials before disappearing.
Mr Lee, a former security official at a prison camp, said: "After a night of ‘servicing’ the officials, the women had to die because the secret could not get out. This happens at most of the political prison camps.”
The satellite pictures apparently show that two of the country's largest camps, Kwanliso 15 and 16, have been expanded with extra housing blocks possibly meaning more inmates.
Amnesty claim that hundreds of thousands of people are currently being held in camps across North Korea, with many not guilty of committing a crime.
North Korea have released a video showing an elderly US citizen apologising for alleged war crimes during the Korean War.
85-year-old Merrill Newman was seized from a flight out of the communist dictatorship on October 26, and has been detained ever since.
His family say they have not been able to speak to him, and are extremely worried about him.
Mr Newman is a Korean War veteran, and his family said he was travelling with permission, accompanied by guides.
In a statement, his family said that the Swedish ambassador had visited him at a Pyongyang hotel and found him to be in good health, and being treated well.
The family pleaded with the North Korean authorities to take Mr Newman's health and age into account and let him go as an act of humanitarian compassion.
The US called on North Korea to release an elderly US military veteran held in custody since last month and who Pyongyang accused of killing civilians during the Korean War 60 years ago.
Swedish embassy officials were granted access on Saturday to visit Merrill E. Newman, the State Department said, the first access by Western officials to him since his arrest.
"On November 30, the DPRK permitted the Embassy of Sweden, protecting power for issues involving U.S. citizens in North Korea, consular access to U.S. citizen Merrill Newman," a State Department official said in a statement.
"Given Mr. Newman's advanced age and health conditions, we urge the DPRK to release Mr. Newman so he may return home and reunite with his family," the official added, using the acronym for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
North Korean officials have told the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang that they are holding an American but have not confirmed it was Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, who was pulled from a plane on October 26 while preparing to leave the communist nation after a 10-day tour.
The Swedish embassy is negotiating on a daily basis on behalf of Newman because the US has no diplomatic ties to North Korea, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington DC.
From high level envoys to classical musicians, here is a list of Americans who have visited North Korea.
- Former US President Jimmy Carter in 1994
- Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000
- Former US nuclear negotiator Chris Hill in 2007 - 2008
- New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008
- Former US President Bill Clinton in 2009
- Google chairman Eric Schmidt in January 2013
- Former NBA star Dennis Rodman in March 2013
The family of an 85-year-old Korean War veteran detained by North Korean authorities during a trip to the Asian nation have publicly appealed to Pyongyang for his safe return home to California.
– Alicia Newman, wife of detainee Merrill Newman
The family feels there has been some dreadful misunderstanding leading to his detention, and asks that the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) work to settle this issue quickly and to return this 85-year-old grandfather to his anxious, concerned family.
The wife of Merrill Newman, the 85-year-old Korean War veteran being held in North Korea, said her husband was being detained following a "misunderstanding" as he was leaving the country on October 26, the New York Daily News reports.
In a statement released by the nursing where home the couple live, Lee Newman said her husband had been planning the trip for some time, and had permission to visit.
The postcards sent to friends while on that trip described a good time, good weather, and knowledgeable guides.
Just before the Asiana airline flight was to depart from Beijing on that Saturday Merrill, already seated, was approached by a Korean official, and escorted off the plane. He has been detained somewhere in North Korea since that time.
We have no word on the state of his health, whether or not the medications sent to him through the Swedish embassy in North Korea have been delivered or why he was detained.