South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports that North Korea may be spending millions of dollars in remembrance of its late leader, Kim Jong Il.
The paper quotes an unnamed source in North Korea who said that a 75-foot bronze statue of the late "Dear Leader" erected in April cost $10 million, adding that seven other statues of Kim, who died in December 2011, built around the country cost another $50 million altogether.
According to the AFP, a South Korean government report issued Thursday said North Korea spent $41.5 million this year promoting the personality cult of Kim Jong Il and his father, Kim Il Sung, through statues, portraits and frescoes.
Chosun Ilbo claims that the state is attempting to pay for the tributes by extorting money from North Korean citizens.
The Telegraph U.K. reports that money spent on venerating Kim could have been spent to offset food shortages in North Korea. An estimated 32 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people are undernourished, according to data from the United Nations' World Food Program.
Kim Jong Un, the son of the late dictator, assumed control of the East Asian nation following Kim Jong Il's death. CNN reports that Kim Jong Un has busied himself in establishing his own cult of personality since assuming power.
This has been accompanied by purges of senior North Korean military officials.
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North Korean leader Kim Jong II (L) claps his hands to applaud an artistic performance by soldiers during his inspection of the 185 unit of the Korean People's Army in this 18 November 1996 file photo. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 18, 2009 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (L) inspecting the Mt. Ryongak Recreation Ground in Pyongyang with Jang Song-Thaek (R), department director of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Committee, and other officials. Jang Song-Thaek, husband of Kim Jong-Il's only sibling Kim Kyong-Hui, will play a pivotal role in wrapping up the hereditary succession to son Jong-Un following the leader's death on December 17, 2011. (KCNA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this undated photo released by the Korea News Service in Tokyo Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, center, inspects the construction site of a power plant in North Korea. (AP Photo/Korea News Service)
This undated but recent photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, right, inspecting a construction project of power stations in North Phyongan Province, northern North Korea, released by the Korea Central News Agency Saturday, Dec. 20, 2003 in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Korea Central News Agency)
This undated photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 5, 2010 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il (C-sunglasses) visiting the newly built gasification process at the Namhung Youth Chemical Complex in South Phyongan Province. (KNS/AFP/Getty Images)