On the western outskirts of Pyongyang, capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), a children's paradise is attracting hundreds of foreign visitors each week.
The Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace welcomed a special group of guests, the Chinese art troupe led by Song Tao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Monday.
The children presented songs, dances, acrobatics and various musical performances to the guests, winning enthusiastic "bravos" and applause.
With the five-star national red flag of China as the stage background, a chorus of girls sang the Chinese song "Flying Red Flag," a selection, to the great joy of their guests.
"I have taught many years my students Chinese songs, including 'the March Song of the Chinese Communist Pioneers.' This time we also practised 'Flying Red Flag' as a specially selected song for Comrade Song Tao and his delegation," said Han Mi Hwa, a 53-year-old accordion teacher.
She is in charge of one of some 140 study groups of the palace which cover three major fields -- science, arts and sports, and offer free tuition to about 5,000 students daily.
Like all the teachers in the DPRK, Han said she regards her work as a mission tasked by the three top leaders of the country, Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un, who regard the welfare of the children as top priority.
"The children are the king of the country and we must give them everything they need before all others, sparing nothing," the DPRK's founding President Kim Il Sung once said when he met with foreign guests.
It is no wonder that the children's palace was built near the birthplace of Kim, an area known for beautiful hills, forests and rivers.
When it was dedicated to the children of the country on April 15, 1989, Kim personally came to cut the ribbons. It was also his birthday.
The design of the construction also reflects the idea of Kim, as it made two wings of the central building look like two arms of the main body, embracing a bronze statue of children riding a large chariot.
Covering a total floor space of over 105,000 sqm, the two-story mansion has a full-sized theater with 2,000 seats, gymnasium, swimming pool, library, e-reading room, electronic recreation hall and 4-dimensional simulation cinema.
Almost every Chinese guest was impressed by the modernity and comprehensiveness of the facilities of the palace after visiting the site.
"The theater is great. It shows the importance given to education and training of young artists by the DPRK and the art-loving character of its people," said Feng Ying, a renowned ballerina who visited Pyongyang with the Chinese art troupe.
"The children here are fantastic. They sing with (their) natural voice instead of relying on microphones. They are really shining, happy, polite and warm-hearted youngsters," said a retired government official from Beijing.
Korean dancing, music instruments, drum playing, Taekwondoo martial arts, embroidery, painting, and calligraphy are the favorites of the children here. Many of them are talented and were selected from various schools across the city to be trained and taught with these special skills.
Ying Chuaen, a 13-year-old boy who learns the accordion five days a week, was very grateful to his teachers who gave everything they knew to him in order that he could become a musician in the future.
"Yes, I am so fortunate to be here," he said after playing a Korean traditional song.
The DPRK's top leader Kim Jong Un pays great attention to the preservation and development of traditional culture of the country, said a guide for visitors identified herself with the surname of Kim.
When the top leader visited the palace two years ago, he asked the teachers to keep three scrolls of ancient calligraphy on the wall of the classroom as inspiration for future calligraphers.
"As spring has come to Pyongyang, numerous foreign guests are visiting this children's paradise each week. They can have glimpse into the children's welfare and growth of the country," said the guide.