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Rifle, Cosmonaut’s Glove, Drones; Kim Jong Un Returns From Russia With Controversial Gifts

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s return from Russia after a six-day trip that raised concerns about alleged weapons deals between the countries, locked in separate standoffs with the West.

He is likely returning home with gifts from his Russian hosts, including a rifle, a cosmonaut’s glove, and military drones, all of which on their own are a violation of UN sanctions.

Here are some of the items he is bringing back to North Korea’s “friendship” museum,  where gifts received by the country’s leaders over three generations are kept.

Gifts from Russia:

Following his diplomatic meeting with Russian President Putin, Kim Jong Un received a top-notch Russian rifle, described as “of the highest quality” by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. In return, Kim presented a rifle crafted by North Korean artisans to Putin.

Additionally, Putin gifted Kim a glove from a spacesuit worn in space, as reported by Russia’s TASS news agency. Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of the Primorsky region, provided Kim with modern lightweight body armour designed for assault operations, offering protection for the chest, shoulders, throat, and groin, reported Russian media.

Kim was also presented with five one-way attack drones and a Geranium-25 reconnaissance drone, which has seen use in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. These gifts blatantly violate at least two U.N. Security Council resolutions against North Korea, resolutions that Moscow had voted in favour of due to North Korea’s banned missile and nuclear activities.

During his visit to Vladivostok, Kim received a fur hat from Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. However, according to Russia’s RIA news agency, there was a rush to find the perfect size of a hat. Alexander Matsegora, Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang, recommended a size slightly smaller than his own “very large head”, which turned out to be the perfect fit. Matsegora emphasized that the gift was from the heart, and Kim Jong Un expressed his liking for it.

Kim began his visit to Russia with a stop in the border town of Khasan, where he received a photo of Yuri Gagarin, the legendary cosmonaut who became the first human to orbit the Earth.

The Friendship Museum Collection

North Korea has put significant efforts into showcasing gifts received by its leaders, including Kim Jong Un, his father Kim Jong-il, and his grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung. These gifts are kept in a special museum called the International Friendship Exhibition, which is located in the Myohyangsan mountain, around 160 km (99 miles) from Pyongyang. The museum comprises two imposing concrete structures with blue-tiled roofs that are built in the traditional architectural style.

Established in 1978, the museum consists of more than 100 showrooms with over 115,000 items from over 200 countries, according to North Korea’s state media. The scale and significance of this collection have led North Korea’s state media to draw comparisons to the famous Louvre Museum in Paris.

Gifts from Around the World

The International Friendship Museum includes a wide array of gifts from foreign dignitaries. Notable items in the collection include crystalware sent by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a teacup set from French President Francois Mitterrand, and a basketball signed by the legendary Michael Jordan, gifted by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during her visit in 2000 and a rifle given by the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Propaganda heavily influences how gifts from South Koreans are displayed. The television set from former President Kim Dae-jung, who engaged Pyongyang with peace policies, is given prominent attention.

In a unique historical connection, the Dynasty sedan, which once served as Hyundai Motor’s flagship, was gifted to Kim Jong Il by the North Korean-born founder of the Hyundai Group, Chung Ju-yung. This gift came after the 2000 inter-Korean summit and symbolized investment in North Korea.

The Hyundai Group founder, Chung Ju-yung, gifted Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s leader, the Dynasty sedan. Chung’s investment in North Korea followed the 2000 inter-Korean summit.

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