For many a scenic highlight of the DPRK, the Myohyang mountain range is situated 160 kilometres north of Pyongyang. The area is dotted with picturesque valleys and waterfalls, possesses wonderful scenery and is paradise for the keen walker. There are numerous rest places and pavilions where one can enjoy a short break and a picnic. This area is also home to the International Friendship Exhibition, an impressive underground repository of gifts to the Leaders, and well worth a visit.
International Friendship Exhibition
This unique complex, constructed in 1978 and extended several times since, looks like it is built in the traditional Korean style. However, it is not as it first appears, as in fact the building is a vast concrete construction, descending into the side of the mountain and spanning some 70,000 square metres. It houses the many gifts presented by nation states, world leaders, institutions and individuals to Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un. The number of rooms and the extent of the construction is quite breath taking. There are also lovely views from the scenic viewpoint.
Built nearly 1,000 years ago in 1042, this restored Buddhist temple is well known throughout the country for its peaceful atmosphere and picturesque setting. Within its grounds were once 24 buildings and pagodas, of which many remain and have been preserved. Examples include the Taeung Hall, Manse Paviliion, Suchung Temple, and the archives of 80,000 wooden blocks containing the complete collection of Buddhist Scriptures. One can also see the Sokka Pagoda, octagonal in shape, standing 8.58 metres high and consisting of 13 stories.
The Myohyangsan area is supremely beautiful and there are numerous well-worn local hiking routes of varying grades that can be enjoyed, often paired with a hearty picnic lunch.