New statue depicts late North Korea leader on horseback

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By: Jean H. Lee, Associated Press
PYONGYANG (AP).- Coat flying open, reins in hand, Kim Jong Il is depicted astride a galloping horse in a larger-than-life statue unveiled as part of birthday celebrations for the late North Korean leader. The statue is the first bronze casting of Kim, who during his lifetime shunned proposals to erect a bronze like the massive statue of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, that towers over downtown Pyongyang. Kim Jong Il, who would have turned 70 on Thursday, died of a heart attack in December. Kim Jong Il told officials in 1999 that he wasn’t ready to accept such adulation while his promise of building an affluent society in the nation of 24 million remained unfulfilled, according to excerpts from a speech published last month. During Kim’s reign, the