By Tom Dare
REVEALING IMAGES from the autocratic state of North Korea have helped shed light on the secretive regime’s attitude towards America, as tensions continue to rise between Washington and Pyongyang.
Taken by entrepreneur and investor Roger Gomez on a recent trip to the country, images show guides giving tours of museums which feature destroyed American tanks and planes from the Korean War.
Other pictures show statues and monuments dedicated to the ‘military might’ of North Korea, despite the fact that its reckless spending on the military has left many of its people starving.
And Roger, who wanted to use an alias to avoid any recriminations, says any visitor to the country is taken on a mandatory tour of a ‘war museum’ full of anti-American propaganda.
“Those photos are from the war museum in the centre of the city,” Roger says.
“The correct name is Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum. It’s a mandatory tourist excursion where they put on display all their trophies of war, which consist of several downed airplanes, armoured vehicles, small tanks, and other vehicles of war. Most are from the Korean War and World War Two.
“There’s lots of anti-American propaganda as well, and there is an entire American warship on display along with a lot of propaganda about how America denied it was their warship and signed statements of confession from the American crew they captured, as well as denials from America that the ship belonged to the US Navy in the first place.”
But despite his fascinating photos, Roger says that he was only able to photograph a fraction of what he wanted to at the museum.
“The most amazing bits are indoors where we are forbidden to take photos.
“It’s a pity because there are so many objects, artefacts, exhibits and propaganda that tells their story as they see it.
“It’s a huge building devoted to gigantic statues and exhibits extolling the amazing exploits and hardships of their glorious and eternal leader in single-handedly galvanizing the country, unifying all (North) Koreans to believe in and fight for a single common objective and securing victory over the evil imperialist occupying forces.
“They kept using words like “imperialist aggressors” and talked about their victories against such imperialist aggressors during different battles in World War Two and the Korean War.
“Our guides had ready answers to normal questions someone from a free country would ask, some of which were so ridiculous that you could tell the guides themselves had a hard time believing.
“I asked them why they don’t have internet and freedom of communication with the outside world, and their response was that that they in fact did have modern telecom and internet.”
Roger says that North Korea’s current attitude towards the United States doesn’t surprise him.
It was out of the 1950-53 Korean War, which took place between the American backed South Korea and the Soviet backed North, that the current regime emerged.
And it is this conflict, Roger says, which continues to strongly shape the national identity in the country.
“There are lots of mention of the Korean War, all over the city and in the subway tunnels, as well as several large public works of art, statues, monuments, murals and art installations commemorating the war of liberation from the imperialist aggressors.
“It’s one of their strongest propaganda lines as well as a constant source of national identity. They believe that they are Koreans and there is no such thing as North and South. They want a unified Korea under the benevolent principles and true leadership of their beloved eternal leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. There are also specific monuments dedicated to the personal philosophy of the eternal leaders as well as the constant wartime sacrifices of (North) Koreans.
“Their state media is all about colonialist imperialist America instigating war on their doorstep.
“Having been there I can say that locals remain blissfully unaware about their country’s increasing global isolation, and of course all their missile test are a resounding ‘success’. There was a lot of grand posturing, serious military movement and missile testing while we were there.”
The war of words between North Korea and America has intensified in recent weeks, with severe sanctions imposed on the autocratic state by the UN after it failed to scale back its nuclear weapons programme.
North Korea’s refusal to listen to the UN prompted American President Donald Trump to threaten the country with “fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen,” on Tuesday, causing Pyongyang to respond with a claim that it was carefully examining a plan to attack the sovereign US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific. Approximately a third of the state is used by the US military, with an estimated 6,000 military personnel stationed there.
However late yesterday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson moved to calm fears of any impending conflict between the two powers, saying that there was “no imminent threat of war,” and that Americans “could sleep safe at night.”