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NKorean soldiers risk lives to protect Kim portraits: KCNA

AFP | April 26 2005

North Korean servicemen have risked their lives to protect pictures of the country's leader Kim Jong-Il, diving on hand-grenades and protecting them after accidents at sea, state media said on Tuesday.

In an article entitled "Army full of spirit of guarding leader", the official Korean Central News Agency detailed tales of bravery of North Korean servicemen dedicated to saving even images of the 'Dear Leader' from harm.

"Soldiers covered hand-grenades with their bodies before explosion to protect portraits of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. And servicepersons plunged themselves into raging flames to protect trees bearing slogans written by anti-Japanese guerrillas without hesitation," KCNA said.

On another occasion, members of the North Korean navy "took measures" to protect pictures of Kim and his father, 'Great Leader' Kim Il-Sung after an unspecified accident at sea before diving into the water.

"It is the servicepersons of the 73-year-old KPA (Korean People's Army) that unhesitatingly sacrifice their lives and youth for their supreme commander," said the Communist country's official mouthpiece.

Kim Jong-Il's portraits, a key symbol of his personalty cult, have long been ubiquitous in homes, offices and public buildings across the Stalinist country, where they hang prominently beside a picture of his late father, North Korea's founder.