Four months ago, the Angkor Panorama Museum opened his doors in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Museum is an homage to the capital of Khmer Empire, one of the greatest cities in the world between the ninth and 16th century. During one year, 63 artists worked to shape the central piece of the Museum, a 360-degree painted fresco who covers an area the size of nearly a basketball courts. Over 45,000 figures populate this cyclorama, a depiction of 12th-century Angkorian history.
This ambitious centrepiece echoes the panoramic paintings at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang minus the North Korean propaganda. Originally from Pyongyang, the tour guide explains that a “merited artist” from Mansudae, North Korea’s biggest art studio in Pyongyang, is responsible for the central piece, but it took 63 artists for almost two years to complete it.
The surprising fact about this museum is, the money, the concept, the design and the artists, came not from Cambodia but North Korea, from a studio named Mansudae, the largest art studio in North Korea.
The two states have historically maintained strong ties since decades but during the last ten years, Cambodia became closer to South Korea, who is now the second investor in the country.
Pyongyang seeks to identify new sources of liquidity abroad. These last years, monuments and sculptures made by Mansudae artists have popped up in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and even Germany…
That type of operation brings to North Korea cash bypassing the established international economic sanctions in response to its nuclear tests ” analyzes Greg Scarlatoiu, chairman of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. According to him, outside activities would allow to the dictatorship to cash 120 to 230 million dollars every year.