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Rifle, fur hat, drones: North Korea’s Kim returns with gifts from Russia

SEOUL — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed home on Monday, most likely with gifts from his Russian hosts including a rifle, a cosmonaut’s glove, and military drones — which on their own are a violation of U.N. sanctions.

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

After his summit with Russian President Putin, Mr. Kim received a Russian-made rifle “of the highest quality,” according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. Mr. Kim reciprocated with a rifle for Putin “made by North Korean craftsmen.”

Mr. Putin also presented a glove from a spacesuit worn in space, Russia’s TASS news agency said.

Oleg Kozhemyako, the governor of the Primorsky region, presented Mr. Kim with a set of modern, lightweight body armor designed for assault operations that protects the chest, shoulders, throat and groin, Russia media said.

Mr. Kim was also presented with five one-way attack drones and a Geranium-25 reconnaissance drone, which is widely used in the war in Ukraine, TASS said.

That violates at least two U.N. Security Council resolutions against the North — which Moscow voted to approve — imposed for its banned missile and nuclear activities.

Mr. Kim received a fur hat from Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Vladivostok, where he inspected Russian nuclear bombers, fighter jets equipped with hypersonic missiles and a warship.

There had been a scramble to determine the right size of the hat, Russia’s RIA news agency reported. Russia’s ambassador to Pyongyang, Alexander Matsegora, suggested a size slightly smaller than his own “very large head,” which turned out to be just right.

“It’s also important that this is a gift from the heart. And Comrade Kim Jong Un liked it,” Mr. Matsegora said.

Mr. Kim began his visit with a stop in Russia’s border town of Khasan, where he was presented with a photo of Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who was the first human to orbit the Earth.

North Korea has put much effort into showcasing the gifts that Mr. Kim, as well as his father, Kim Jong-il, and grandfather and state founder Kim Il Sung, received from foreign dignitaries, dedicating a special museum for them.

Nestled in the hills of the Myohyangsan mountain 160 km (99 miles) from Pyongyang, the International Friendship Exhibition is two imposing concrete structures built in the traditional architectural style with blue tiled roofs.

Opened in 1978, the museum comprises more than 100 showrooms with more than 115,000 items from more than 200 countries, according to the North’s state media.

The scale and importance of the collection make it comparable to the Louvre in Paris, North Korea’s sate media have said.

The collection includes crystalware sent from former US President Jimmy Carter, tea cup set from French President Francois Mitterrand, a basketball signed by Michael Jordan given by former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on her visit in 2000 and a rifle given by the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Propaganda plays heavily into how gifts from South Koreans are displayed, with the large-screen television set from former President Kim Dae-jung, who engaged Pyongyang with peace policies, receiving prominent showing.

The Dynasty sedan, which was Hyundai Motor’s flagship, was gifted to Kim Jong Il by the North Korean-born founder of the Hyundai Group, Chung Ju-yung, who spearheaded investment in the North after the 2000 inter-Korean summit. — Reuters

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