Myohyang-sanmaek Things to Do

  • Flowers on Mt Myohyang
    Flowers on Mt Myohyang
    by wabat
  • International Friendship Exhibition
    International Friendship Exhibition
    by wabat
  • Chongchon Hotel Exit
    Chongchon Hotel Exit
    by wabat

Most Recent Things to Do in Myohyang-sanmaek

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    International Friendship Exhibition

    by wabat Updated Sep 14, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Throughout our tour in North Korea our guides went to great lengths to extol the virtues and wholesomeness of North Korea and its Leaders and took great pride in the fact that it and its people are pure, clean and devoid of negative outside influences. Our guide told us of how the State makes every effort to protect itself and its citizens from everything bad and wicked. This, of course or at least for the domestic audience, explains why North Korea isolates itself from the outside world rather than the outside world isolating itself from North Korea.

    Indeed, far from isolating itself from North Korea, the outside world, we were told, loves North Korea and its Leaders and this manifests itself through the gifts and accolades nearly every country in the world, including the United States, bestows upon the country and, in particular, on its great leaders.

    If you have read my review on the Tower of the Juche Idea in Pyongyang you will recall the hundreds of small plaques of support received from Juche societies and similar from all over the world which provide evidence of how Kim Il-sung’s Juche Idea has been embraced worldwide. Likewise, you may recall from my review of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun which, in addition to being a mausoleum for the two leaders, has (at least) two large rooms, one for each leader, displaying the awards and accolades bestowed upon them during and indeed after their life on earth. There, we were guided by display case after display case of medals, trophies and degree certificates including an honorary degree from Kensington University of Glendale, California (since closed). Also preserved there, in separate rooms, are cars, boats and train carriages given to, or used by, the leaders.

    The Juche Tower plaques and these trophy rooms were a mere foretaste of what we saw at the International Friendship Exhibition.

    Here at, and indeed built into, Mt Myohyang are two massive ‘temples’ in traditional Korean style architecture housing around 300,000 gifts bestowed upon the Leaders since 1945. The majority of the gifts were to (and indeed some 20 years after his death he still receives gifts – in his current role as Eternal President of the DPRK) the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung. One of the two buildings is dedicated to him.

    Kim Jong-il, while not having received as many gifts as his father, still makes a good showing with tens of thousands of gifts to his credit – so far. The current Leader Kim Jong-un has already amassed enough to fill seven rooms.

    The process in terms of visiting both ‘temples” is the same – you enter, leave all your worldly possessions (bar your clothes and wallet!) in the cloakroom and don cloth covers over your shoes to protect (or is it assist with polishing) the marble floors in these extremely lavish buildings.

    In terms of what you can take in, and to avoid potential embarrassment, our European guide warned us of the highly sensitive airport type detectors we would have to go through and how, on an earlier visit, a condom in a gentleman visitor’s wallet had been detected, somewhat to his embarrassment. As such condoms, chewing gum, etc were to be left in the cloakroom. Rather ironically a couple of minutes later a stick of chewing gum was detected on the very same guide. Photography was prohibited within the exhibition buildings and I cannot imagine how anyone would get a camera or phone in here – if indeed, a condom can’t get through!

    Having made our way through security and having paid homage to massive statues of the leaders we made our way deeper into the mountain through windowless room after windowless room full of gifts which were indeed from all over the world, arranged (in the main) by geographical location. As time would not permit us to see every room we were asked which countries we would like to see. Whether we liked it or not (and we liked it) we would be seeing gifts from China, Africa, Cuba, Russia and the former USSR, Romania, Central America and other left leaning countries in addition to, the United States. In terms of countries selected by our group – obviously everyone wanted to see gifts from their home countries so in addition to a few others we visited rooms or sections dedicated Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of other West European countries.

    While there are few countries in the world not represented here one does have to look closely at who gave the gifts and in what capacity they were given. It comes as no surprise that various Soviet, Chinese and Vietnamese heads of state presented gifts as did the likes of Nicolae Ceausescu from Romania and Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi from Libya. Perhaps more surprising are gifts from former US Presidents Carter and Forde and former US Secretary of State, Madeline Albright. Senior UK politicians have also given gifts but that comes from having (or rather being permitted to have) an embassy in the country. Gifts on display from most western countries come from fairly obscure communist and socialist groups, Juche societies and individuals. As you might also expect, anyone or any company doing business with North Korea is also represented here.

    While visitors from outside North Korea can distinguish between donors are separate the official from the non official, North Korean visitors are not in a position to do so and leave believing that all gifts were official gifts from the various countries given through their love for North Korea, its Leaders and its people. The exhibition is primarily directed at North Koreans and not foreign visitors.

    The gifts themselves range from the very expensive and well considered to the downright cheap and tacky with the majority of them being at the lower end of this scale.

    Writing of tacky brings to mind a picture ( I can’t recall from where or whom) which the guide, to our merriment, explained had been made from 'genuine cock fur'. Well what does one say? She, of course, meant chicken feathers!

    Perhaps the most famous (for all the wrong reasons) gift, once temporary interest in some basketballs and jerseys recently presented by US basketball player, Dennis Rodman, recedes, is a stuffed crocodile with a serving tray of wooden ‘glasses’ (not to forget the matching ash tray) presented by the leader of Nicaragua’s Sandinista rebels. Clearly the guides know of the world wide notoriety of this particular gift and ensure everyone sees it. Our guide, in total seriousness, did point out that this was a very significant and important gift as it provided evidence that even the animal kingdom sought to serve the Great Leader via this crocodile offering him a drink (see picture 5 attached – not mine and widely available on the internet).

    While I could list many more ‘notable’ gifts on display, in addition to that from the Sandinistas, I will restrict myself to the following:

    • Nicolae Ceausescu, former Romanian leader - the head of a bear which he personally shot, mounted on a red satin pillow. Stuffed animals seem to be particularly popular gift items for dictators and terrorist organisations. That said, the collection also includes a stuffed bird from US evangelist, Billy Graham
    • Fidel Castro, former Cuban leader – crocodile skin suitcase
    • Madeline Albright, former US Secretary of State – a basketball signed by Michael Jordan
    • Muammar al-Gaddafi, former Libyan leader - metal horseman and ornate chess boards
    • Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe leader - an ivory ashtray
    • Hwabei Tire Factory in China – a tiny rubber ashtray
    • Ted Turner, founder of CNN - paperweights with the CNN logo.

    Housed deep in the museum were three extra special gifts from China, the most amazingly lifelike wax statues I have seen in my life - quite stunning pieces. Unsurprisingly the statues were of Kim Il-sung, his first wife Kim Jong-suk and Kim Jong-il. Absolute reverence and bowing was demanded in the three rooms housing these statues. This article contains a picture of the Kim Jong-il statue and a short video on the Kim Jong-suk statue - http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/04/09/kim-jong-un-elected-kim-jong-il-erected/

    While gifts are showered upon the Kims from all quarters they also give gifts but mainly to people within North Korea. Our guide explained that Kim Jong-il was especially generous and in visits to army units he regularly gave out machine guns, automatic rifles and binoculars!

    Should I have whetted your appetite for more you will have to make the trip and see them for yourself. Indeed you might even be selected to don white gloves (you are not allowed to touch it) to push open the 4 tonne bronze door (picture 4) to gain entry for your group to the Kim Il-sung collection. Be careful that you don’t upset the guards who carry silver-plated Kalashnikov rifles (picture 2).

    Our visit, covering both ‘temples’, lasted 2-3 hours with a short break between the two in a rather nice café cum gift-shop in the first 'temple' where we were able to go out onto the balcony and admire the mountain views while having a drink. So impressed was Kim Il-sung by the exhibition and its mountain location that one day while standing on this very balcony he recited a poem he had personally written.

    "On the balcony I see the most
    glorious scene in the world...
    The Exhibition stands here,
    its green eaves upturned, to exalt
    The dignity of the nation,
    and Piro Peak looks higher still."

    And on that poetic note ......................


    Next Review
    For those who have joined me on my tour of Mt Myohyang from the main page this is my last review. I invite you to return to my Mt Myohyang page now and leave a comment as I greatly appreciate the feedback. Thank you for joining me. I trust you enjoyed reading my reviews as much as I enjoyed writing them.

    International Friendship Exhibition International Friendship Exhibition International Friendship Exhibition International Friendship Exhibition International Friendship Exhibition - Gift
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Museum Visits
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple - Part 2

    by wabat Updated Sep 14, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Religion and the Juche/Atheist philosophies of North Korea are strange and uneasy bed fellows. Under the constitution there is freedom of religion for all. The promotion of religion, particularly from outside, is absolutely prohibited and is one of the few things that ‘tourists’ get into strife for.

    There are a handful of Christian churches in the country and more than a handful of Buddhist temples of which Pyohon Temple is the largest and most famous. Given the long history of Buddhism in Korea and the role it played in the development of the country – I referred to how monks assisted in ridding the country of Japanese invaders during the 1590s Imjin Wars in Part 1 of this review – the government has been, and probably still is, in a quandary as to how to deal with this religion.

    In this instance, the Government has spared no expense and done a fantastic job in renovating this temple which was severely damaged by US bombings during the Korea War. It is promoted as an operating temple and, apart from the fact there was no evidence of worshipers on the morning I visited, it looked operational to me.

    Part 1 of this review covered the main aspects of the temple and I have added this part mainly to let you see a few more pictures of this wonderfully preserved complex.

    While most temple complexes are symmetrical in the sense that you enter up through the centre via a number of gates and pass through buildings as you make your way to the main temple in the rear with other buildings on either side, this complex differs and the “main run” is off to the left and it and the other buildings surround a large grass central compound. This layout can be more clearly seen on my picture ( picture 5) of part of the large plan at the temples entrance.

    I have added the numbers on this plan and they in turn show the location of the:

    1. Temple Gates – As we entered from the car park we missed out on seeing the first (and from pictures, perhaps the nicest looking of the gates – Jogye). Also between this gate and the second gate (Haetal Gate or the Gate of Nirvana), via which we entered, are a number of steles detailing some of the temple's history and displaying collateral damage marks from the 1951 US bombing of the complex. The inner or third gate is called the Chonwang Gate or the Gate of the Four Heavenly Kings
    2. Quadrangular 9-storey Pagoda
    3. Manse Pavilion
    4. 13 storey or Sokka Pagoda
    5. Taeung Hall – the main temple building
    6. Kwanum Hall (one of the older – pre Korean War - buildings used for Buddhist teaching)
    7. Gift shop
    8. Changgyong Pavilion – home to 81,000 wooden block scriptures
    9. Temple Bell

    All of the above (except the gift shop) are depicted by my other pictures either here or on Part 1 of this review.


    Next Review
    Active temple or not, this is a beautiful temple complex located in the most idyllic of locations and surely deserved more time than the hour or so we had there. Time was made for a short visit to the gift shop before we moved on to our next stop, our primary reason for coming to Mt Myohyang, the International Friendship Exhibition.

    Pohyon Temple - Kwanum Hall Temple Gates - Haetal and Chonwang Gates Chonwang Gate - Guardian Kwanum Hall Pohyon Temple Layout
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple - Part 1

    by wabat Updated Sep 14, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pohyon Buddhist temple, one of the few places of worship in North Korea open to foreign visitors, dates from 1042 and the Koryo dynasty. It was founded by a monk named Kwanghwak and is named after the saint that guards the morals of Buddha. The current incarnation of the temple mainly dates from post the Korean war (1951-53) when the temple complex was extensively damaged by US bombings with over half of the buildings completely destroyed.

    During the late 16th century Imjin Wars the temple became a base for warrior monks, lead by 73 year old Sosan, who held out against the invading Japanese and indeed assisted in recapturing Pyongyang from the Japanese.

    Set into Mt Myohyang the temple grounds and mountain views are quite stunning and worth a visit in themselves even if you have no interest in temples.

    In addition to the beautifully carved and decorated temple buildings the temple is home to two very important pagodas - a 6 metre tall quadrangular 9-storey Pagoda (picture 3 with Manse Pavilion to the rear) and an octagonal 13-storey Pagoda (picture 1 with Taeung Hall to the rear). The 13-storey, or Sokka pagoda, dates from the 11th century and stands 8.5 metres high and supports 104 windbells, one attached to each corner of each of the 13 storeys.

    In addition to these priceless pagodas, in one of the newly reconstructed temple buildings - the Changgyong Pavilion (picture 5) - is an archive of over 81,000 wooden blocks, being a treasured 13th century copy of the complete collection of Buddhist Scriptures - the famous Tripitaka Koreana - housed in Haeinsa, a Buddhist temple in South Korea.

    Pohyon temple is also home to Korea’s largest bell at 7 tonnes (picture 4).

    The main hall (reconstructed) of the temple - Taeung Hall - houses a number of Buddha (picture 2) including Bohyeon-bosal or Samantabhadra (the Bodhisattva of Benevolent Action). This makes Mt Myohyang the “northern home" of that deity and comparable to Emei-shan in China.

    It was here, in Taeung Hall, that we were introduced to a monk by our local government guide. Our guide told us that this was an operating Buddhist temple but we only saw two monks and many of the group were unconvinced as to whether they were real monks or actors. I don’t know. The monk advised us that there were about 20 monks in residence and around 2,000 followers visit the temple at various times during the year. I did not note any worshipers there during my visit.


    Next Review
    I have added a second part to this review, primarily to let you see more pictures of this beautiful temple complex and tell you a little about the various temple gates. Part 2 also includes a, hopefully, useful picture of the Temple layout. Do have a look - Pohyon Temple - Part 2.

    13-storey Pagoda and Taeung Hall Pohyon Temple - Taasung Hall Main Altar and Monk 9-storey Pagoda and Manse Pavilion Pohyon Temple Bell Changgyong Pavilion
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Eternal Life Monument - Yeong Saeng

    by wabat Updated Sep 13, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you have read others of my North Korea pages you will be aware that monuments to, statues of and murals and pictures of the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il liberally adorn the country and every town, and indeed village, has an assortment of these. I do hasten to add, though, that these items are not on every street corner as some more sensationalist observers like to portray.

    While we did not get a look at the centre of Hyangsan town, as out hotel was on the outskirts by the river, we did get to see a number of adulatory pieces in the area.

    In my review of the Chongchon Hotel I draw attention to one of the best paintings of the Leaders I saw in the country. Do have a look at that review, if you haven’t already done so.

    Outside our hotel – across the road - we were able to see an Eternal Life (Yeong Saeng) monument (picture 1) and another monument (picture 3).

    The second monument consists of three large slabs of rock inscribed with notable sayings/quotations from, and pictures of, the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, his first wife Kim Jong Suk and his son, the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il.

    The Eternal Life monument (pictures 1 and 2) is typical of that found in all North Korean towns.
    Following the death of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, in 1994, his son and successor, Kim Jong-il, ordered the building of Yeong Saeng ( Eternal Life) monuments throughout North Korea. It is thought that some 3000 of these monuments were erected in prominent positions in cities, towns and villages across the country each serving as a reminder, through their main inscription, that the “Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung is with us for eternity”. Just as well given that he is the Eternal President of the DPRK.

    The monument here is smaller than its similar counterpart in Pyongyang but serves the same purpose.

    Citizens are “encouraged” to pay their respects to (worship) the Great Leader at their local monument, either on the anniversary of his death (8 July) or on his official birthday (15 April). The dedicated and truly loyal will, of course, visit on both occasions.

    Newly weds often feel inclined to lay flowers on these monuments on their wedding day.

    Incidentally, for those interested, in addition to the monument similar to this referred to earlier, Pyongyang has another monument serving the same purpose but on a much grander scale. Refer to my review on the Tower of Immortality.

    On leaving the hotel and en route to the glamorous Hyangsan Hotel to pick up a couple from our group who chose to stay there, we passed what is a reasonably common site in North Korea, the mural of the Leaders depicted in my final picture. The large number of flower arrangements is due to the fact that the previous day was the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung.


    Next Review
    Prior to starting our sightseeing for the day we needed to pick up two of our group who stayed at the Hyangsan Hotel. This afforded us the opportunity to have a look at what that hotel had to offer so next port of call the Hyangsan Hotel.

    Eternal Life Monument Chongchon Hotel Exit Kim, Kim and Mrs Kim Monument Great and Dear Leader's Mural
    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Flowers on Mt Myohyang

    by wabat Updated Sep 13, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The beautiful mountainous Mt Myohyang area, about160kms to the northeast of Pyongyang, rises almost 2,000 metres above sea level and was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2009. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a couple of hours walking in it's Manphok valley during spring. In my review, Walking on Mt Myohyang, I have detailed the walk itself. In this review I want to share some photos of the plant life we encountered on our walk.

    Mt Myohyang’s spectacular peaks and valleys are home to around 30 endemic plant species; 16 plant species that are globally threatened and 12 animal species that are also endangered.

    On our short walk we saw no animal life, endangered or otherwise. In terms of plants/flowers I doubt if any of the photos attached depicted the endemic or threatened species but I don’t know. I am far from a botanist and merely admire plants and flowers for their beauty. I trust you enjoy the pictures too.


    Next Review
    Having completed our walk on Mt Myohyang it was time to check into our abode for the night - the Chongchon Hotel.

    Flowers on Mt Myohyang Flowers on Mt Myohyang Flowers on Mt Myohyang Flowers on Mt Myohyang Flora on Mt Myohyang
    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Photography
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • wabat's Profile Photo

    Walking on Mt Myohyang

    by wabat Updated Sep 13, 2014

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mt Myohyang, in addition to being a favourite recreational area for the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, and the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, is a sacred mountain area as, according to legend, it was the home of King Tangun, forefather of the Korean people.

    In English Mount Myohyang translates to ‘mountain of a single fragrance’ . That fragrance is juniper, best known to many, including myself, as the key ingredient in gin. Juniper bushes grow in abundance in this beautiful mountainous area which rises to nearly 2000 metres above sea level, about 160kms to the northeast of the capital, Pyongyang.

    There are four major valleys and numerous walking tracks in what is a national park. Our afternoon walk was up into the Manphok valley – the valley of '10,000 waterfalls' – so named because of numerous small waterfalls and pools along its route. We started walking, upwards, at the point where the valley connects with the Myohyang River, about 4.5km from the Hyangsan Hotel ( a luxury hotel – where I didn’t stay but wish I had). From here we followed a paved road a short distance to the Sogok Falls (picture 1) beside which there is a small gift shop. At this point the trail changed to a steep single file track across rocks and cliff face into which footsteps were cut, and along which wire rope handrails were provided, at more difficult sections. While not an easy walk, with time, it was doable by all, especially as we could walk as far as we liked, returning to the bus when we wished.

    The full trek passes the Murung (picture 2), Unson, Yuson, Unjong, Pison and Kuchung Falls but none of our group went beyond Yuson Falls about an hours walk from our starting point. I went as far as Manphok Rock just past Unson Falls (picture 3) and from which I got a nice view of the walkway which spans Yuson Falls (picture 4) in the distance. Just prior to the climb to Manphok Rock there is a lovely pavilion (picture 5) affording great views in all directions – also a nice spot for a rest and close the Pal pools where fairies are known to have frolicked in earlier times. Some of our group stopped here – perhaps in the hope of a frolic with the fairies?

    While none of the falls were spectacular in their own right and the water flow was very low, taken as a whole, the valley and walk was beautiful and what a treat it was to be out in nature and away from ‘the Kim story’, if just for a couple of hours. Well, ok, not completely away from it as at the outset we were assured that this beautiful mountain area had been protected and developed at the behest of the Great Leader who has personally planned some of the walking tracks in the area. How grateful we were.

    Certainly a great walk and one day hopefully I will be able to return for some extended walking at this beautiful location.

    A couple in our group opted out of the uphill walk and were assured that they could have a walk around in the vicinity of the bus. As the bus was parked by the river the obvious thing to do was to walk down the five or so metres and sit by, and enjoy the river. This being North Korea things are not that simple. As this ‘detour’ was not an approved route for foreigners it was not permitted – the river could be adequately viewed from the road! Likewise, a short walk further along the road or back along the road we had used to get here was equally forbidden. So, in reality, the only walk in the vicinity of the bus permitted was up the hill into the valley!


    Next Review
    While I concentrated on the falls and getting myself up the steep ascent on the way up, on the return back to the bus I took greater notice of the spring flowers along the route. If you continue to my next review – Flowers on Mt Myohyang – you can see some of these flowers.

    Mt Myohyang - Sogok Falls Mt Myohyang - Murung Falls Mt Myohyang - Unson Falls Mt Myohyang - Rest Pavillion Mt Myohyang -Yuson Falls Walkway
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Photography
    • National/State Park

    Was this review helpful?

  • Orchid's Profile Photo

    Oh Eternal Leader

    by Orchid Updated Mar 31, 2013

    In every town in the DPRK, in a prominent square a Yeong Saeng ("eternal life") monument will have been erected.

    This is because, when the Great Leader passed on, angelic cranes came to take him to heaven, but were because of the devotion of the mourning of his people, the cranes let him return, where he is now the 'Eternal President' .

    tribute is paid to the Eternal Leader on his birthday with ceremonies at these monuments. Similarly, newlyweds will lay flowers at the monuments immediately after the wedding.

    Yeong Saeng (
    Related to:
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Sogok Waterfall

    by DSwede Updated Nov 30, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Your tour through Myohyang will be for the purpose of the North Koreans to show the wonderful tributes to Kim il-Sung in the Friendship Halls.

    But if you have time to go further up the road, along the river, from the Friendship Halls, you can get to the base of a hiking trail. Up the trail, there are countless waterfalls, beginning with Sogok Waterfall. If your guides offer, it is a peaceful getaway into the cool trees and fresh air.

    Sogok Waterfall
    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking

    Was this review helpful?

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple - Pagoda's

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    There are two pagoda's within the temple complex. The first one is 9-storeys high and square and stands between the Chonwang Gate and Manse Pavilion. The second is a 13-storey high. octagonal pagoda which measures in at 8.5m high. It stands in front of the first hall, the Taeung Hall.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple - Gates

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    In order to reach the three main halls of the temple complex, you first have to pass through three gates - Chogye, Haetal and Chonwang. The Chonwang Gate features the four temple guardians you come to expect in Buddhist temple complexes.

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    The Pohyon Temple was founded in the Sangwon Valley, not far from the International Friendship Exhibition, in 1042 during the Koryo period. It is named after the Buddhist saint Pohyon who was in charge of the “morals of Buddha.” Originally it had 24 buildings and pagodas and was a major centre for propagating Buddhism in this area of Korea.

    The temple complex was almost completely destroyed by bombings during the Korean War. Several of the main structures have been rebuilt, including a new Archive Hall to house the third printing of the Buddhist scriptures to have been printed between 1236 and 1251 AD on 80,000 wood blocks (now in the Haeinsa Temple near Daegu in South Korea.)

    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Architecture

    Was this review helpful?

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    Scenic mountain area

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    The Myohyang Mountains ('Mountains of mysterious fragrance') are home to some wonderful scenery but, unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to explore it. Instead, all we saw of it was a few views of some valleys and a stream running past the International Friendship Exhibition. The air here is very clean, as is the crystal clear water in the stream. According to my guide book, the mountains are home to 700 species of plants, 33 kinds of "beasts", 115 kinds of birds and over 20 kinds of fish.

    Was this review helpful?

  • Willettsworld's Profile Photo

    International Friendship Exhibition

    by Willettsworld Written Sep 7, 2008

    The International Friendship Exhibition are two huge partly underground palaces filled with over 100,000 gifts from over 150 countries to both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. We visited the larger of the two first, that was opened in 1978, which had gifts presented to Kim Il Sung. We first had to hand in our cameras and were then told to put on dust covers over our shoes. This is due to the fact that marble is everywhere - on the floors, walls, balconies and staircases. We were led into many rooms were the gifts were very impressive. Some of the stand out ones include a limousine sent to him by Josef Stalin and an armoured train carriage presented to him by Mao Zedong. Most of the gifts are vases, glassware, pictures etc which are fairly boring but some really stand out like a stuffed crocodile holding a wooden plate and cups from the Nicaraguan Sandinist National Liberation Front. Most of the gifts come from extreme left-wing African countries or Communist parties based in the west. Some halls feature large photo's of Kim Il Sung meeting foreign heads of state.

    After visiting just some of the 120 rooms (otherwise we would be there for a lifetime), we were led into a room where two large groups of North Koreans were. All the women were sitting down whilst the men were standing in neat rows. We went in before them, into a room with a grinning life-sized waxwork of the Great Leader stood. Our guide bowed his head but we just looked on. He's not very tall but still manages to look down on people as he's standing on raised ground.

    After visiting the first palace, we were led down the road to a small building that contains all the gifts presented to Kim Jong Il. Gifts here include those from Hyundai, CNN, a good luck note from Jimmy Carter and a basketball from Madeleine Albright. Some gifts come in the form of old electrical items such as TV's, record players and other stereo equipment as Kim Jong Il is a big 'techy' fan. I've included a short video that was included on a CD I bought from our tour cameraman.

    Was this review helpful?

  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    Pohyon Temple

    by DSwede Updated Jun 22, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The temple is tucked in the steep hills just a few minutes from the Hyangsan Hotel, about half way to the Friendship Halls.

    The temple has history going back several hundred years. Many temples have suffered from wars, fires, or the communist regime, but thankfully this one has survived in tact.

    The halls, pagodas, and manicured grounds have the wonderful backdrop of truly remote green mountains in a location few will ever see.

    Pohyon Temple

    Was this review helpful?

  • DSwede's Profile Photo

    International Friendship Exhibition Hall

    by DSwede Updated Jun 22, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Myohyang is the location of the underground depository of all the gifts and tributes that Kim il-Sung and Kim Jung-il have received. These depositories are massive underground labyrinths that could house the wealth of an entire country, and keep it safe from an all-out war.

    The guides like to tell you something along the lines that if you were to look at each gift for one minute, without taking breaks or stopping, you would not live long enough to see each gift.

    These gift halls, are enshrined as proof that the world's generosity and appreciation for Kim il-Sung is so revered that he is loved by everyone, and still receives gifts to this day posthumously.

    There are gifts ranging from furniture to electronics, cars to train carriages, honorary university degrees to honorary citizenships. There are artworks, photos and memorabilia from every corner.

    Even the eternal enemy of DPRK, the imperialist USA, has a few gifts on display. For one, he received an honorary degree from a CA university, as well as an autographed basketball of Michael Jordan.

    If any one of these rooms were to be auctioned off, it is my feeling that the country could be fed for many weeks. But these goods will be for ever entombed as a gesture of how glorious the Leader is.

    Pictures are not allowed inside, you will have to check your camera and bags at the door.

    Guarding the gifts

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Myohyang-sanmaek

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

15 travelers online now

Comments

Myohyang-sanmaek Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Myohyang-sanmaek things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Myohyang-sanmaek sightseeing.

View all Myohyang-sanmaek hotels