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N. Korea enacts urban beautification act
SEOUL, May 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has enacted an urban beautification act in an apparent bid to transform itself into a "civilized socialist" state in line with the policy goals set by its leader, local analysts said Wednesday.

   The May 9 issue of the Minju Josun, obtained by Yonhap News Agency, showed the existence of a new beautification law that was not seen in the North's legal statute book published last October.

   The new act, reported by the official newspaper for North Korea's Cabinet, covers urban planning, beautification of buildings and structures, cleanliness and strict rules governing hygiene and improvement of living conditions for the people.

   It also allocates responsibility for specific urban beautification projects to government agencies, state-run companies and groups so more people will play a role in the project.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un accompanied by military officers inspects a research institute to cultivate grass. (Yonhap file photo)

"Urban beautification is not something that can be done by a few people or organizations but requires participation by everyone in the country," the paper said.

   Such calls are in line with the interest shown by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in enhancing urban dwelling conditions and protecting the environment.

   Since he took power after the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011, the incumbent leader and the state have placed considerable emphasis on creating a civilized socialist state that can highlight the superiority of the North Korean regime.

   The Minju Josun report, moreover, called for increasing state investment in projects that aim to improve the urban environment, and to expand international cooperation in this field.

   "There have been concerted efforts to make cities more comfortable for people and it has become one of the North's slogans," said Lim Eul-chul, a research professor at Kyungnam University.

   He said by making a new law, Pyongyang may be making a statement that it wants to pursue the urban beautification policy for the long term and not allow it to become a short term social campaign. Seoul officials, meanwhile, did not confirm if a new law had actually been passed.