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N. Korea builds statutes of ex-leaders in special economic zone

North Korea said Saturday it has built statutes of its two former leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-Il, at the northern free-trade city of Rason, apparently to show off the regime's stability to foreigners.
   
"They were erected on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in its English report. "Present there on invitation were staff members of the Russian consulate-general in Chongjin and foreigners staying in the city."
   
North Korea founder Kim Il-sung's birthday falls on April 15.
   
The free trade zone in North Korea's northern city of Rason was formerly known as Rajin and Sonbong, in late 2011. The special trade zone sits across the border from China's northeastern Jilin province. 
   
Experts said North Korea's move apparently is aimed at verifying the stability of the regime, which has been isolated from the international realm.
   
The city has been one of few entryways for the communist country. Earlier last month, a Chinese travel agent said a tour route linking Hunchun, a border city in the Chinese province of Jilin, to Rason will soon restart. 
   
North Korea and Russia has also been making moves to renovate the 54-kilometer double-track rail link between the town of Khasan in southeastern Russia and Rason. (Yonhap)

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