Another long day ahead, but this time the cult of personality will be dialed up to 110. The coating and passive wording will be non-existent at our first destination.
The Korean War Museum
This is where the narratives which we are familiar with will conflict with what the State wants to show visitors. We were not allowed to take photos inside the museum unfortunately, which you will later know for some obvious reasons.
The Korean War Doctrine
They sugarcoated nothing in this museum and the North Korean narrative was laying bare on the table for everyone to see.
The Korean War museum had not officially recognised the support from the Chinese or Russians in the war, but funnily enough - Kim Il-sung was the Un-sung hero (pun intended) that turned the tide of war against the Americans. He was a brilliant military commander with superior strategy on the field.
I also don't think I heard mention of the South Korean army because in the State's eyes - they are still one Korea - and it was the United States had instigated the war, committed war atrocities and had bombed Pyongyang to oblivion - while also using chemical warfare. All these were presented as facts with evidence in the museum.
There was a rotating panorama art piece at the top which was used to great effect to show the atrocities of the Americans during the war.
It was really bizarre hearing this from the guides and a museum without breaking form. There were some truths but they were highly twisted and amplified for emotional manipulation which is successful within the borders of the country.
I agree that both sides need to be heard - much like the Vietnam war - so take what you will out of this information.
Grand People's Study House
The next stop was the a glorified State library which is 100k square meters and consists of 600 rooms, and another glorious painting of Kim Il-sung.
The Korean's like to show you their big modern buildings and streets - showboating their glorious technology. But then they show you a VCR and cassette players in their state of the arts music room.
The Grand People's Study House has so many layers that it was just way too overwhelming to unpack. At first you aren't quite sure what this place really is. To then later learn that it's an extracurricular library that is heavily filtered by the State and actually used to mainly further their learning on the Juche ideology.
Pyongsong Primary School
After a tour of contradictions, we finally departed to Pyongsong. Pyongsong is considered a satellite city of Pyongyang, the Silicon Valley of North Korea, which at first glance seemed to have a lot more people than Pyongyang. Was definitely told it's not. 😔
During the visit, I felt very strange about the performances of the school children but was reassured afterwards that classes actually do run when tourists aren't around.
You can only visit the school twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays after 4pm, on Thursday they have the performance at 5pm. The rest of the time it operates as normal without interruption from tourists. Can imagine this can get very annoying for them.
An even more dark hallway - wonder why the lights aren't turned on for this area. Which I quickly realised there were some of posters floating about.
We were then on a 3 hour drive to our Mount Myohyang - which would of felt much longer if it wasn't for the guides to bring out a DIY karaoke game.
After a few drinks, everyone was getting up and singing some absolute bangers. One of the highlights of being a tour group with a energetic and tipsy characters.
We arrived at our 6-star hotel, the Hyangsan Hotel. This was just a 5-star hotel with 1-star food. The style of this hotel apparently was inspired by Shangri-La.
The group sat down in the bar in the lobby and drank till midnight. G&T's were £5 whereas local beer was £1.30. I know which ones I wanted to start sinking.
One the perks of being in a tour group in a contradicting country is to have some other people to bounce your thoughts and experiences so far - and having a great laugh about it all.