Looking down on Kim Jong Il
In a country of abject poverty, where millions have died of malnutrition and starvation and where large concentration camps can be found, North Korea's "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il lives well. Outside Pyongyang, a facility known as "Residence No. 55" is the official residence of North Korea's president. While Kim has other residences, this, say U.S. and Japanese officials, is the main one.
Satellite photo provided to NBC News by GeoEye.
It is unlike other dictators' residences -- neither as grandiose as Saddam Hussein's various palaces with their monumental architecture and statues of mythical animals, nor as simple as Punto Cero, the Castro family compound west of Havana, with its small, tasteful residences for Fidel and his family, set in a park-like area.
The main residence apparently is a large building set aside a man-made lake with tiny islands connected by walkways. But also visible is a large security building with a running track and athletic field [Castro has one as well] and a private parade ground and stand, apparently for reviewing the North Korean Praetorian Guard. Nestled in nearby woods are smaller residences for favored members of the Kim family (Castro has those as well, while Saddam's family had separate palaces). The two buildings with green roofs look like theatres to the uneducated eye (Kim is a film buff with encyclopedic knowledge of American movies). And of course, there is the requisite helipad.
Inside, according to those who have had the privilege, are ornate furnishings, deep plush carpets and fancy chandeliers.
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