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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 December 2006, 11:01 GMT
'Karaoke boost' for N Korea troops
North Korea leader Kim Jong-il, centre, with his military generals
The military is vital to the regime's survival, analysts say
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is reported to have found a rousing way of boosting morale among his troops - by giving them karaoke machines.

He said karaoke sessions eased tensions in the ranks, but also encouraged competitiveness, state media reported.

North Korea has one of the world's largest manned armies, but levels of training, discipline and equipment are reported to be low.

The secretive state alarmed the world with a nuclear test in October.

"I plan to send more song-accompanying machines to the People's Armed Forces," Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying by the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers Party of Korea, according to Japan's Kyodo news agency.

He told a meeting of military commanders that "the atmosphere changed completely" among troops when they started to sing along to the tunes on the machine.

And he also noted that soldiers and officers competed with each other to get the highest scores, the newspaper reported.

Kim keeps track of the number of karaoke machines sent out to each troop division by writing it down in a notebook, according to the Rodong Sinmun.

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