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North Korea-funded museum set to open in Siem Reap

The construction site of the North Korean Grand Panorama museum in 2013 near Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
The construction site of the North Korean Grand Panorama museum in 2013 near Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Thik Kaliyann

North Korea-funded museum set to open in Siem Reap

An Angkor-themed museum funded and operated by North Korea, but located in Siem Reap, is finally set to open after years of delays.

The vast Grand Panorama museum, set on a 4-hectare site just 3 kilometres from the temple complex, is due to open on December 4, according to Long Kosal, spokesman for the Apsara Authority, which manages the temples.

“Because of the current holiday, invitations to the opening ceremony have not yet been sent out, but they will be distributed soon,” he said.

Kosal added that the North Korean company that built the museum would run it, together with the government, for 10 years, during which time they would get back their investment plus profit. Management would then transfer to Apsara.

The $10 million development includes a 120-metre mosaic, other paintings depicting the temples and rulers of the Khmer empire, and a 3D cinema.

Human Rights Watch spokesman Phil Robertson was highly critical of the project.

“By associating Angkor Wat with an international human rights pariah government like North Korea, Cambodia is tarnishing its historical legacy,” he said. “Tourists should stay away from this museum.”

But Apsara spokesman Kosal said there was nothing unusual about North Korea’s involvement given the long-established relationship between the two countries starting under former King Norodom Sihanouk.

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