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North Korea: Pyongyang War Museum

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Pyongyang War Museum | North Korea | Asia

[Visited: July 2000]

Although not on the official programme, we had a strong wish to see the War Museum in Pyongyang. Because of their love for elaborate names, the North Koreans call it the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. Fortunately, we were allowed to visit, and as always, were assigned a Korean guide at the entrance, who did not speak any English. The Korean War on all accounts started when the North Koreans attacked the South in 1950. Obviously, the North Koreans have rewritten history to their will and thus it were the "US imperialist aggressors" who attacked the North. It was to become the first conflict in which the United Nations ordered force to be used.
Our guides showed us around this museum with a victorious face, and on each possible occasion the North Koreans were praised while of course the South Korean "puppets" and the US "imperialists" were either treated in a very bitter way, or laughed upon. When in front of a completely demolished plane, allegedly American, one of the guides made a gesture of how he thought a soldier on the ground had downed the plane, which killed the pilot. A vicious smile on his face.

Picture of Pyongyang War Museum (North Korea): War Museum Pyongyang

"The visitor can see what preeminent military ideas the Great Leader Marshal Kim Il Sung conceived and how his thoughts were applied successfully", according to the brochure of the museum. There are some halls, in which you enter from below, and which depict complete battles. The visitor just sits down on a revolving platform, which allows a view of the battle, with light effects, sounds, and explanations in Korean. The scenes are very realistic, as real trees, earth and life size puppets and weapons are used. Obviously, it is always the heroic Koreans who win the battle. Koreans fight in a decisive way. Moreover, it has probably been one of the saddest and most senseless wars in the 20th century (if ever there was not a sad and senseless war), as the ceasefire which was reached in 1953 effectively re-established the pre-war situation, the division of the country along the 38th parallel. This re-establishment had cost an estimated 2 million deaths combined. It left us with a very uncomfortable feeling.

Picture of Pyongyang War Museum (North Korea): War Museum Pyongyang

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