Excerpts from the book
In 1974 Kim Il Sung had this lavish villa built for Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the exiled leader of Cambodia. Topped with a Korean-style roof, the 40-room palace boasts high ceilings dripping with chandeliers. At its heart is a vast ballroom where Sihanouk often entertained foreign diplomats. The interior was reportedly modeled on that of Kim's own residence.
The palace grounds include a private Buddhist temple and a gymnasium. It overlooks Changsuwon ("Lake of Longevity"), an artificial lake surrounded by wooded hills.
They were the odd couple of East Asian politics. Cambodia's Prince Sihanouk, a self-indulgent royal, and Kim Il Sung, a crusading communist, forged a friendship that defied all ideological explanation.
At times of upheaval in Cambodia, Sihanouk availed himself of Kim's hospitality. Ousted by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, the prince briefly sought refuge in North Korea. After Vietnam's 1979 invasion, Sihanouk fled his homeland again, shuttling between Beijing and Pyongyang. As Kim's guest he dabbled in movie production all expenses paid by the state before returning home for good in 1991.
The two leaders' close relationship puzzled observers. Sihanouk says he was moved by Kim's generosity. As for Kim, some believe he saw Sihanouk as a useful link to the non-communist world.