North Korea asked a Chinese waxwork expert to make a figure of nation founder Kim Il-sung taller than he really was.
Zhang Molei, director of the Great Men Wax Museum of China, said. "Kim Il-sung was actually around 1.73 m tall, but we made his figure 1.89 m tall at North Korea's request."
Zhang is the first foreigner to have been awarded the title of "people's artist" by North Korea.
Zhang, who guided the production of life-sized wax figures of Chinese leaders Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai, made the comments in a recent interview with a Chinese weekly.
He was talking about the creation of wax figures of Kim Il-sung, his wife Kim Jong-suk and son Kim Jong-il.
When the waxwork of Kim Il-sung arrived in Pyongyang back in 1996 to mark the second anniversary of his death, more than 1,000 North Korean Workers Party, government and military officials wept as they greeted it, Zhang recalled. He added that North Koreans were ordered to bow once to the wax figure as it was displayed in Mt. Myohyang, where Kim Il-sung had a summer home.
Zhang said a North Korean guide told him that Koreans bow three times to the dead, but North Koreans believe Kim lives forever and therefore bowed to him only once.
The regime gave Zhang a Swiss watch, Japanese audio equipment and porcelain as gifts.
In 2011, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-il asked Zhang to create a waxwork of his mother depicting her as an independence fighter against colonial Japan. After seven months of production, it was handed over to North Korean officials in Beijing on Dec. 16, but Kim died a day later and never got to see it.
Current leader Kim Jong-un then asked Zhang to make a waxwork of his father. Kim Jong-il was clearly ill due to a massive stroke in his final days, which made it difficult to create an accurate waxwork, so the figure was modeled on a picture taken in healthier days.
Kim Jong-un apparently paid great attention to detail, checking even the teeth and neck. North Korean officials gave Zhang a jacket, shoes, glasses and even underclothes Kim Jong-il used to wear to help him build the figure.