North Korean museums are actually rather good

Sinchon Museum

True story. Have a look at the Tripadvisor reviews of the Glorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and be suitably impressed. You can also read my own analysis of the aesthetics here.

What’s less well-known is that there is a similar museum in pretty much every province, which locals are supposed to visit in an appropriately sombre frame of mind and consider the attrocities inflicted by the UN troops during the Korean War.

A new one just opened in Sinchon, clearly designed by the same people who were involved in the rennovation of the Glorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

We’ve already encountered the surprisingly sophisticated ‘Pyongyang Postmodern’ aesthetic vocabulary employed here, so there’s nothing particularly new to say about that. In fact, what’s interesting here is the torture dioramas.

Yeah, you did read that right.

Sinchon Museum

Sinchon Museum

Sinchon Museum

Sinchon Museum

The soldiers on the right are real people, incidentally, not wax models

Being a pure-minded and fastidious type of person, I am not entirely sure what exactly is supposed to be going on in any of those scenes, but I do recognise them. As would any North Korean propaganda expert. They’re based on a series of images that have enjoyed relatively wide exposure abroad:

Anti American propaganda

Anti-American propaganda

Anti-American Propaganda Poster

North-Korea-anti-American-Propaganda-pulling-teethInterestingly, the original pictures are sumptuous oil paintings, no doubt worth vast amounts of money (to the right purchaser, and I sadly suspect that they would play to packed audiences at Sotheby’s). I can only assume that their almost exact reproduction in a provincial museum must mean that they are frequently printed in domestic political literature, to the extent that they have become a recognisable part of the national psyche.

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