We’ve already made the case as to why you should Visit North Korea and what you can gain from the experience, but perhaps you’re looking for a bit more the actual places you see and visit when in the country itself. Well, as always, we at Visit North Korea have all the answers you need. Here, we’ve compiled a list of five “surreal places” within North Korea itself that are guaranteed to give you a strong experience, be it either one which amuses, mystifies or spooks you. These are locations that are likely to feature in your itinerary and they’re certain to leave a strong impression on you! Let’s see what they are!
1. The International Friendship Exhibition
Located a while North of Pyongyang near Mount Myohyang, the international friendship exhibition is a unique museum of goods which North Korean leaders have received from world leaders over the years. The museum apparently stands as a testimony to how much the world “honours” the leaders of the DPRK. However, the majority of the gifts on display come from Cold War era leaders such as Mao, Stalin, Castro and as well as likeminded individuals in the 20th century such as Robert Mugabe, Gaddaffi and the Assads. It makes interesting viewing to say the least…
2. Mangyongdae Children’s Palace
The Mangyondae Children’s Palace in Pyongyang is a theatre where children perform for an audience and visitors. The performers sing, dance and play instruments to incredible levels of discipline, organisation and perfection. The songs and themes themselves of course are of a curious nature… with some being based around launching rockets or singing praise to the leaders. Nevertheless, it is a fantastic performance which will no doubt impress.
3. The U.S.S Pueblo and Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum
The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang is North Korea’s official museum dedicated to the 1950s conflict on the Korean Peninsula. It is always a highlight of people’s trips as it tells an “alternative” version of the history of the war which goes against the established narrative. They go to serious lengths to try and affirm this, including making visitors sit and watch a DVD called “who started the Korean war?”- On display outside the museum sits the U.S.S Pueblo, a U.S intelligence ship captured in 1968 off the coast of Wonsan. It is the only U.S ship ever to meet this fate. You can board it as well and see the bullet holes. As a whole, the museum is interesting, fun and peculiar. The guide who leads the group around too is also entertaining!
4. The Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities
The Sinchon Museum of American War Atrocities sits in rural Sinchon County, Hwanghae Province, about two hours away from Pyongyang. The museum is perhaps the most hysterical example of a propaganda museum known to man, telling the graphic “story” of how American troops murdered over 30,000 civilians and children in the county during the Korean War. This is taken to ridiculous lengths, with artworks and wax models depicting graphic violence, blood curdling fonts and red lighting, recorded screams of children, model skulls and plenty of painted blood stains too… Yes, it is certainly memorable.
5. The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
Last but certainly not least, the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is the official Mausoleum and resting place of leaders Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-Sung, who lay preserved on display in darkened rooms. The palace goes much, much further than other Communist nations have done with their leaders, creating an elaborate palace glorifying and documenting their entire lives. The process of getting in is rigorious, akin to airport security, complete with odd shoe cleaning devices, as well as a requirement you place everything in your pockets in a locker. For North Koreans, this is serious business, not least because it is described as “the most sacred place in the country” and demands high standards of respect. Once you finally leave the palace, you’ll without a doubt have a bit of a headache to sort out.