A massive North Korean underground lair fit for a James Bond villain has been uncovered by satellite images.
The 176,000sq ft Kanggye General Tractor Plant can accommodate 20,000 people and is understood to be the country's biggest underground arms factory.
Also known as Factory No.26, it is built within a hill that spans 1.2km and houses multiple floors, whilst access is gained through at least nine tunnels that are several miles long.
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American researcher Jacob Bogle has analysed the satellite pictures and told Metro.co.uk : "The average person looking at the factory probably wouldn't suspect just how large or important it is.
"Outside, in front of the hill that houses the underground portion, there are about 50 hectares of administrative buildings, warehouses and even a small stadium for employees to play football.
"The factory is somewhat nondescript. But then all you have to do is look at the hill and you can see small buildings extending straight into the rock and at least nine entrance tunnels."
The plant, located in the Chagang province, is understood to be responsible for the manufacturing of both ammunition such as self-propelled artillery and components for short-range ballistic missiles.
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Staff are also subjected to body searches with guards looking for lighters and matches or any other implements that could start a fire.
Unsurprisingly, the factory's work was hailed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a 2019 visit when he said that he "appreciated the plant for having produced highly efficient machinery and equipment conducive to the national economy and the strengthening of the defence capabilities", according to the Korean Central News Agency.
Bogle added: "So, to carry on with the Bond villainy analogy, you have this somewhat normal-looking factory, surrounded by the region's mountains.
"But then you look more closely and there's this hidden network of tunnels all producing weapons for one of the largest militaries in the world and that's headed by a guy who murdered his own brother and uncle."
The plant was built in the 1950s after the Korean War and, in 1991, a huge explosion killed at least 1,000 people.
A Daily NK report, meanwhile, quoted locals who reckoned the genuine death tally was nearer 6,000, with many victims reportedly workers trapped underground when authorities allegedly blocked exits.
Around four years later, the factory was rebuilt and, on the current working conditions, Bogle said: "There is a stadium and swimming pool, there's a medical clinic and there are other amenities for the workers and their families.
"Work at the factory is likely to be difficult, and there would be no public discussion of injuries or safety failures, but there is no reason to believe that workers are any less safe than at other North Korean arms factories."
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