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Massive statue depicting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il unveiled in North Korea

Photos by David Guttenfelder / AP

North Korean soldiers file past a new bronze statue depicting the late leader Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung after an unveiling ceremony at Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang on Feb. 14, 2012. As North Koreans prepare for what would have been the 70th birthday of late leader Kim Jong Il this week, the country's state media have gone to great lengths to build up the man who led the nation for 17 years until his death in December.

The Associated Press reports: Tuesday's widely anticipated unveiling of the 18-foot-tall statue took place amid a fervent propaganda campaign to build up the man who led the nation for 17 years as his son and successor, Kim Jong Un, takes over the country's helm.

"Having Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather portrayed as gods is important for a regime based on hereditary rule," said Peter Beck, a Korea specialist and The Asia Foundation's representative in Seoul, South Korea. "Legitimacy comes from his forefathers. Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather may be dead, but he embodies their essence."

State media have reported a series of supernatural events since Kim Jong Il’s death: Mountains glow crimson, double rainbows, a family of bears weeps by the side of a road, hundreds of shrieking magpies hover over mourning sites. Kim Jong Il has also been given the title of "Generalissimo," a name his father shares, North Korea announced Wednesday.

A North Korean soldier stands at attention as others cheer during the unveiling of a new bronze statue depicting the late leader Kim Jong Il and his father Kim Il Sung on Tuesday.

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