Kim Jong-il is never mentioned by name in James Church’s books but his influence as “the central” is everywhere in them. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

In the murky world of North Korean politics, you find heroes in the strangest places. One such figure is Inspector O, a mysterious North(...)

South Korean soldiers patrol along a military iron fence in the border city of Paju near the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, which is 250km long, about four kilometres wide. Photograph: Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

A heavy machine gun points north in the direction of Pyongyang from a camouflaged bunker on the South Korean side of the demilitarised zone (DM(...)