The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum is North Korea’s official museum which commemorates the conflict otherwise known as the “Korean War” from 1950-1953. Newly rebuilt in 2015, the museum is known for presenting North Korea’s version of events and intertwining the war in with the wider narratives of the regime. It is a staple of North Korean tours and as a result is one of the most visited sites in Pyongyang, yet this does not reduce the value of the experience.
Contents of the Museum
The Museum is large with both an interior and exterior collection. The exterior collection, which the visitor will see first, consists of captured American and allied equipment and vehicles from the war, as well as the purported remains of bombs. These collections are overshadowed by an enormous statue of a triumphant North Korean soldier. In addition to these collections, the U.S intelligence vessel, the U.S.S Pueblo, captured by North Korea in 1968, is stationed in a man made canal stemming from the Otong tributary river. Visitors may board the ship and have a look around, usually done before entering the interior of the museum.
The interior of the Museum is akin to a palace, with elaborate marble floors and massive chandeliers. Visitors may not take photos at any point. In the entrance stands a gigantic waxwork statue of Kim Il-Sung in uniform. When entering, the visitors will be first taken to a side room where they will be made to watch a short film entitled “Who started the Korean War?“. The film gives North Korea’s account of the conflict’s origins, which contradicts mainstream historical narratives. Afterwards, the guide will then proceed to give a small lecture on the entirety of the conflict’s timeline as a whole.
Touring the Museum
After the video, the group will be shown around the various rooms of the museum, which details the events of the conflict, North Korean soldiers’ lifestyles during the war and of course an emphasis upon American war crimes. The choice of which rooms will be visited varies from tour to tour. After the main rooms are complete, the guide will take the group through a underground path in the museum to an observation dome, where the entirety of the walls are covered with a panorama painting depicting the battle of Daejon in South Korea. The group will be seated on a circular platform in the middle of the room which will rotate accordingly, showing the entirety of the panorama. This will come with sound effects and visual animations of the fighting. It is needless to say, an impressive piece of work.
The tour of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum will then end with a visit to the gift shop and cafe. Here tourists may buy the usual political texts produced by the government and other memorabilia, as well as the “Who started the Korean War?” DVD.