Angkor Panorama Museum an insight to North Korea’s international relations

Interior of the Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: New York Times 20160125

An interesting insight from the articles is that despite its location beside the new ticketing ground, the museum itself doesn’t receive many visitors, leading the staff to switch off the lights and air conditioning when not in use.

Interior of the Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: New York Times 20160125
Interior of the Angkor Panorama Museum. Source: New York Times 20160125

An Art Powerhouse From North Korea
New York Times, 25 January 2016

The giant mural in the foyer depicting a smiling stone face offers a mere taste of the grandiosity within the new Angkor Panorama Museum here. Inside, a 360-degree painted vista covers an area the size of nearly four basketball courts. Over 45,000 figures populate this cyclorama, a depiction of 12th-century Angkorian history.

The museum, which opened in December, is a sweeping homage to what historians call one of the greatest cities in the world between the ninth and 15th centuries and the capital of the Khmer empire. But almost everything that went into this building — the money, the concept, the design and the artists — came not from Cambodia but from North Korea, namely, Mansudae, the largest art studio in that country.

At a time when much of the world’s focus is on North Korea’s mercurial leadership and nuclear capabilities, this studio’s work is quietly making its way beyond the borders of that hermit kingdom. In recent years, monuments and sculptures made by Mansudae artists, modern-day masters of Socialist Realism, have popped up in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and even Germany.

Full story here.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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