International Friendship Exhibition

Top choice museum in Myohyangsan

This exhibition hosts a massive display of gifts given to Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un. Housed in a mountainside vault that is vaguely reminiscent of a Bond villain's hideout, on display is everything from Kim family transportation to glassware and wax figurines.

A member of your group may be honoured with the task of opening the vast doors that lead into the exhibit – after putting on ceremonial gloves to protect the polished doorknob, naturally.

Kim Il-sung’s gifts are very impressive. Particularly noteworthy is the beautiful armoured train carriage presented to him by Mao Zedong and a limousine sent by that great man of the people, Josef Stalin. The exhibits are arranged geographically, although you will thankfully only be shown the highlights of the 100,000-plus gifts that are spread over 120 rooms. Gifts from heads of state are displayed on red cloth, those from other officials on blue and gifts from individuals on brown. The undeniable highlight is a stuffed caiman (small reptile related to the alligator) holding a tray of wooden cups, presented to the Great Leader by the Sandinistas, a Nicaraguan socialist political party.

The tone of the visit is very strict and sombre, so avoid the very real temptation to ice-skate across the over-polished floor in your foot covers. The most reverential and surreal part of the exhibit is the final room, in which there is a grinning life-sized waxwork of the Great Leader, to which you will be expected to bow your head before leaving respectfully.

Next is Kim Jong-il’s similarly spectacular warehouse, where gifts given to him have been housed in a vault built into the cave wall. Kim Jong-il's gifts include those from Hyundai and CNN, as well as a good-luck note from Jimmy Carter and a basketball from Madeleine Albright. Indeed, some parts of the exhibit look like any upmarket electronics showroom – row after row of wide-screen TVs and stereo equipment donated by industrialists. There's also a rendering of the Dear Leader in wax here. In recent years gifts to Kim Jong-un have been added to this section of the IFE.

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