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.