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North Korea Has Opened Up Its British Embassy For The First Time

Neighbors have seized the chance to get a glimpse inside the embassy, which is hosting an art exhibition.

Posted on November 5, 2014, at 11:53 a.m. ET

This nondescript house in west London is actually the official embassy of North Korea.

Neighbors have told The Guardian that the building has long been shrouded in mystery—until now.

Inside this small piece of London is North Korean soil. Today, for the first time - they're letting the public in

luke hanrahan@luketomhanrahanFollow

Inside this small piece of London is North Korean soil. Today, for the first time - they're letting the public in

6:27 AM - 04 Nov 14ReplyRetweetFavorite

The normally secretive state has opened up the embassy to the public for a four-day exhibition featuring works by the country’s top artists.

It was the brainchild of British art historian David Heather, a collector of North Korean art, who told The Guardian he proposed the exhibition in August “and was surprised at how quickly his suggestion had become a reality."

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP / Getty Images

"The practicalities have been complex but the intention has been simple all along," Heather told the BBC.

"We're bringing two cultures together, exchanging comments and criticism. It builds a bridge, which can surely only be of benefit."

On display are works that one might expect to see in a "state-endorsed" exhibition of North Korean art.

The artists were also allowed to paint scenes of British life.

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP / Getty Images

Here, North Korean artist Jon Pyong Jin stands with his paintings, which feature scenes from along the Thames and Trafalgar Square.

Four North Korean artists traveled to the UK for the event, but all seemed to avoid making political statements to the British press.

Artist Ho Jae Song told the BBC he was like any artist, with the freedom to paint any scene he wanted.

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP / Getty Images

Many seemed happy just to have the opportunity to snoop around the embassy.

Among the vistors were neighbors Lawrence and Valerie Peters, who told The Guardian that Lawrence had once “ruffled a few feathers” at the embassy by walking all the way up to the door to invite the ambassador to play bowls.

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