Seoul, South Korea -- North Korea on Saturday condemned news reports that portraits of totalitarian leader Kim Jong Il have been removed from public places, calling them "a foolish attempt to take the sun down from the sky."
North Korea's state-run news agency, KCNA, said the reports were spread as part of a "psychological warfare" by the United States and other "hostile forces" to undermine the communist regime.
North Korea warned that the psychological warfare will further hamper international efforts to resolve a disputer over its nuclear weapons programs.
"This is part of an anti-North Korean racket aimed at tainting the lofty authority of our supreme leadership and creating a false impression that there is a problem within our republic," KCNA said in a dispatch monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
"Any plot to defame our supreme leadership is nothing more than a foolish attempt to take the sun down from the sky," KCNA said.
Kim Jong Il, who inherited power from his late father and founding President Kim Il Sung, is "the destiny of our people and the destiny of our socialism," the dispatch said.
It added that the North Korean military and people's trust in Kim "is getting stronger as the times pass."
Russia's Itar-Tass news agency, citing unidentified diplomats, reported last week that portraits of Kim were being removed from buildings in the secretive North. Some news media in South Korea, Japan and the United States have since carried similar reports.
On Saturday, KCNA said, "That kind of thing has never happened and will never happen."
Kim and his late father are the focus of an intense official cult of personality in North Korea, and their portraits are hung in all public places. People also wear rappel pins showing the images of the father - and less frequently the son. The father and son are routinely eulogized as the "Great Leader" or the "Sun of the 21st Century."
Also Saturday, North Korea's state-run daily Minju Joson accused Washington of trying to topple the North Korean regime by smuggling tiny radios into the isolated country, where all state-issued radios are preset to receive only government signals.
"Their escalated anti-(North) moves will result in nothing but completely checking the solution of the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and bedeviling the relations of stand-off between the (North) and the U.S.," the newspaper said.
North Korea is locked in a dispute with the United States and its allies over its nuclear program.
North Korea is one of the world's most secretive, tightly controlled societies. Outsiders who try to follow political and economic developments there often are forced to rely on sketchy, secondhand information and details gleaned from the government's rare public acts.