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North Korea: Researchers Find 'Unicorn Lair'

North Korea has raised eyebrows around the world by announcing that researchers have proved the existence of the unicorn.

The official state news agency says archaeologists "reconfirmed" the existence of a "unicorn lair" in Pyongyang, once used by an ancient Korean king.

The Korean Central News Agency reports that archaeologists made the extraordinary discovery when they spotted a rectangular rock carved with the words "unicorn lair" 200m from the city's Yongmyong temple.

The report quotes Jo Hui Sung, director of North Korea's history institute, explaining how the find tallies with information in history books from the 16th century.

He says: "Korea's history books deal with the unicorn, considered to be ridden by King Tongmyong, and its lair.

"The temple served as a relief palace for King Tongmyong, in which there is the lair of his unicorn."

There has been speculation that the report may be a spoof response to the Onion's satirical article declaring that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is "the sexiest man alive for 2012".

That article attracted worldwide attention after China's Communist Party newspaper apparently neglected to confirm it was a joke and published it as fact.

Others have suggested the story has a political aim - to assert the supremacy of North Korea over its more prosperous southern neighbour.

It claims that the unicorn discovery "proves" that Pyongyang in the north was "a capital city of Ancient Korea as well as Koguryo Kingdom".

Official news from the totalitarian state - often featuring dubious claims about its scientific achievements or the love the impoverished people have for their dictator - has been met with scepticism in the past.

Memorably, one report claimed that Kim Jong-il shot a 38 under par round of golf - including 11 holes-in-one - on his first and only attempt at the sport.

The late leader's official biography claimed that his birth in Baekdu mountain was prophesied by a swallow and heralded with a double rainbow and a new star in the heavens.

A North Korean newspaper also once reported that Kim had invented a new snack that could cure the nation's hunger problems called "a double bread with meat" - although cynics said the product sounded rather like a hamburger.