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North Korea: Airport terminal is 'new face' of country

The absence of Kim Il Sung portraits at the new terminal appears to indicate Kim Jong Un is looking to North Korea’s future rather than its past for inspiration.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea: Airport terminal is 'new face' of country
North Korean flight attendants at Pyongyang's Sunan International Airport. The airport's newly renovated second terminal is six times the size of the original, according to North Korea. File Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, July 2 (UPI) -- North Korea signaled it was time to do away with the old and usher in the new at the opening ceremony of a gleaming airport terminal in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

The second terminal of Sunan International Airport had been renovated after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un complained about the building in November and subsequently purged official Ma Won Chun to a rural location for his supervision of the original construction, Yonhap reported.

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North Korea state media claimed the new terminal is six times the size of the original, and that a duty-free store, upscale boutiques and restaurants serving different kinds of cuisine are on site.

North Korean Premier Pak Pong Ju said the new terminal is the new face of North Korea, ready to meet the travel demands of the 21st century.

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The older, utilitarian structure had been replaced by a more modern facility, but other details seemed to indicate Kim is looking to North Korea's future rather than its past for inspiration.

Numerous photos featured in North Korean media showed portraits of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung had been removed.

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It is also likely portraits of the former Kim Jong Il were also taken out.

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Instead of Kim portraits on the exterior of the terminal, electronic signs reading "Pyongyang" in English and Korean were installed.

The portraits of the Kims have served as a popular site for souvenir photos for visitors.

South Korean television network SBS reported it is likely the images may have been removed to avoid alienating curious tourists to the country, who are becoming a major source of foreign currency for North Korea.

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New conveniences at the airport include connective bridges that passengers can use after disembarking from their planes. They replace buses that shuttle between plane and terminal.

Conveyor belts where travelers can claim their luggage have also been installed, according to North Korean descriptions of the terminal.

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