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North Korea building more statues of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, expert says

Satellite images show building in progress in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, as well as in the regional cities of Nampo, Sariwon and Haeju.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Father-son statues of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and son Kim Jong Il are also altars of veneration in North Korea. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap
Father-son statues of North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and son Kim Jong Il are also altars of veneration in North Korea. Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, May 18 (UPI) -- North Korea may be building more father-and-son statues of the late Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Using Google Earth satellite imagery, Curtis Melvin of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, told Radio Free Asia that four previously undisclosed locations are the sites of construction for the monuments to the dynastic leadership.

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The Kim family, including current leader Kim Jong Un, is idolized in North Korea, and statue sites serve as altars of veneration in the reclusive country.

South Korean television network KBS reported Melvin arrived at his conclusion after examining the satellite images progressively from last September to March.

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The results show building in progress in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, as well as in the regional cities of Nampo, Sariwon and Haeju.

In Pyongyang's Ryongsong district, home to the palatial residence of Kim Jong Un, construction is underway on a four-sided site that resembled an altar. The aerial view of the plot indicated four-sided objects that were white and sky blue in color had already been placed.

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In one satellite image from January, a site in the North Korean city of Sariwon showed a bronze-colored site with four sides, and at the bottom, an inscription that read "eternal life," making the area a likely candidate for an altar to the Kims.

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Previous North Korean announcements noted new statues will be raised in the North Korean cities of Rason, Kangkye, Hamheung, Wonsan and Hyesan.

The satellite images showed areas that have been undisclosed in North Korean public bulletins.

Melvin said the move to build more statues of the Kims indicates Kim Jong Un is symbolically following in his forefathers' footsteps – and more importantly to reaffirm his legitimacy as the supreme leader of North Korea.

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