IntroductionThis beautiful, mountainous nature area is usually seen as part of an overnight trip from the capital. Although time is often allowed for hiking, the primary attraction is the International Friendship Exhibition, a six-story museum of gifts given to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il by people from other countries. Most of it is high-quality craftwork sent by leaders of developing countries and East Asian trading companies, but there are some fascinating surprises. Our favorites: a bullet-proof sedan (from Stalin); a stuffed crocodile holding a serving tray of wooden wine goblets with an ashtray at its feet (from Nicaragua); and Kim Il Sung's portrait delineated in Arabic script (the text of which is the undying classic, "The Nonalignment Movement Is a Mighty Anti-Imperialist Revolutionary Force of Our Times"). Some gifts seem like an afterthought picked up at the airport (plastic souvenir placemats from Mauritius); others lend insight into the givers (megalomaniacs Qhadafi, Mao and Khomeini gave pictures of themselves). And yet others seem double-edged—what, for instance, was the true message from the African leader who gave Kim Il Sung a hyena? After seeing the museum, visitors are taken to a nearby Buddhist temple complex. Those who have visited temples in South Korea will notice quite a difference; although the buildings in North Korea are in excellent shape, there are no worshippers (there is a token monk on site). The wooded trails into the surrounding mountains pass lovely waterfalls and afford excellent views. 75 mi/120 km northeast of Pyongyang.
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