The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox


Imagine that you're an action hero tasked with breaking into the most secure locations on planet Earth. What are you infiltrating? The Pentagon? Fort Knox? Whatever the British version of Fort Knox is? D-Downton Abbey? Is that what that is? Sure, there are those, but breaking into some of the most ridiculously secure locations on Earth would leave you very disappointed with your spoils. We're talking about ...

North Korea's International Friendship Hall

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox

Many kings, presidents, and dictators have some kind of vault filled with the rarest and most decadent gifts donated from other nations over the years. And probably the saddest of such galleries is the International Friendship Exhibition Hall of the reclusive hermit nation of North Korea.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox

Their definition of "friendship" could use some work.

The museum is a heavily guarded building built right into the side of a mountain, about 100 miles north of Pyongyang. It reportedly stores thousands of items gifted to the country over the past century by its very few "friends," mostly other dictators of impoverished, failed regimes.

Among the rumored prized treasures of North Korea's friendship museum are a sword donated by Gaddafi, a cigarette box courtesy of Tito, a train carriage thoughtfully gifted by Mao, an ashtray bequeathed by Mugabe, and a bear's head generously provided by Ceausescu.

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Shockingly, North Korea appears to have little interest in enshrining the bayonet
that stabbed Gaddafi in the ass until he bled out.

And those are just the most valuable of North Korea's treasures. Delve deeper into the Kim dynasty's hall of prizes, and you'll apparently get to see a briefcase donated by Fidel Castro and a clock from CNN founder Ted Turner. Just, like ... a basic clock.

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It ticks to the next time the Atlanta Braves become relevant. Ticking, ticking, forever.

According to journalist Eddie Burdick, who had the rare opportunity of actually visiting the Hall, it also displays a copy of the Bjork album Volta and a VHS copy of the 1996 Looney Tunes movie Space Jam. Being that North Korea is probably still a few years short of VHS technology, we're sure they're looking forward to watching it one day.

Scientology's Top Secret Archive Of '80s Memorabilia

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox

The most secure of Scientology's many ominously locked-down locations is the church's headquarters in California, nicknamed "Twin Peaks," and the home of church leader David Miscavige.

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Angry Gay Pope/Google Earth

The question mark is presumably where Shelly Miscavige is.

According to ex-Scientologist and whistleblower Dylan Gill, who was the foreman for the project, the base is every bit as difficult to infiltrate as that scene from Mission: Impossible. Hidden beneath a bunch of innocuous-looking log cabins, it's a sprawling underground facility fitted with infrared and visible light cameras, heat sensors, motion sensors, bunkers capable of surviving a nuclear blast, and razor wire ... because if something is worth protecting, it's worth over-protecting to an insane degree.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Angry Gay Pope

No one must see Travolta getting into shape for Battlefield Earth 2.

So what kind of treasure is Scientology hoarding in its top secret equivalent of Area 51? According to those very few who have been granted access, the most protected area is the scripture archive. By which we mean the shitty novels of L. Ron Hubbard, most of which you can pick up at a yard sale for 50 cents apiece. But it's not a library of dog-eared paperbacks -- Hubbard's writings are lovingly preserved in a titanium, atmospherically controlled vault, on glorious ... laserdisc.

The facility was built in the 1980s and was cutting-edge at the time, meaning that all of Hubbard's novels, essays, interviews, and lectures are forever preserved on perhaps the most hilarious of media formats.

Photographs secretly captured inside the fortress also reveal David Miscavige's private gyro gym. Remember that? The thing that was briefly supposed to represent the future of exercise in, like, 1989? At this point, we can only assume Miscavige has his personal collection of Vanilla Ice records hidden behind a retina scan.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Angry Gay Pope

The spinning really helps unclog the bullshit between his ears when it reaches critical levels.

The Mormon Genealogy Archive

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The Mormon Granite Mountain Vault in Utah, built 700 feet into the side of a mountain, is designed to withstand natural disasters as well as apocalyptic wars. It's equipped with 14-ton blast doors that are said to be able to protect the vault from a Michael Bay-scale meteor impact.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
The Long Now Foundation

Fallout: Old Vegas.

So what treasures do the Mormons hold that need to be so jealously guarded from the ravages of both Man and God Himself? Basically ... just a list of Mormons. More specifically, it's the full genealogical records of most members of the Mormon church, stored and protected on modern microfilm and updated as technology progresses. So they're slightly more "with it" than the Scientologists.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox

Which is kind of like having the more stylish pair of Crocs and jorts, but it's a start.

According to the Latter Day Saints, the vault is necessary because hellfire could blaze across the countryside basically any day now and wipe out less secure archives like a modern-day Library of Alexandria. In the event of such an apocalyptic disaster, the church has made sure that, while hunting rats for food in a Fallout-style wasteland, Mormons worldwide will still be able to find out the name of their great-grandpappy, and who he liked to bone. They really have their priorities in order.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox

Norway's Arctic Seed Archive

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Erlend Bjortvedt/Wiki Commons

Meant to withstand a worldwide apocalypse, the appropriately named Doomsday Vault was designed and built by the Norwegian government. It is sunk deep into the ice of the Arctic island of Svalbard, atop an old network of mine shafts. It looks exactly as ominous as both the name and location sound ...

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Erlend Bjortvedt/Wiki Commons

What's inside? Wampas? Things? Wampa-Things?

Its precious treasure? Seeds.

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Erlend Bjortvedt/Wiki Commons


Now, to be fair, the mission of the Doomsday Vault makes more sense than the Space Jam Vault. It exists so that, in the event of such a worldwide disaster that all of Earth's plant life is destroyed, we have an archive of all the seeds we'll need to repopulate the planet's flora. If we can get to it. And if we can replant enough of them. And survive however long it takes for them to grow so that we can resume a normal, if vegan, lifestyle. And presuming that we haven't all just eaten each other by then, because meat is delicious.

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NordGen / Dag Terje Filip Endresen

"How nice of the main course to bring us a side dish."

Denmark's International LEGO Archive

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Deep beneath the Earth in Billund, Denmark, there lies a secret, heat-controlled, heavily guarded vault containing that country's national treasure. We are, of course, talking about LEGO.

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Brick Journal Magazine

If you ever betray their secrets, they make you walk the vault barefoot.

The LEGO company's international archive, nicknamed "Memory Lane," is a highly secure vault containing one copy of every single LEGO set ever created, from the very first wooden bricks made by a humble toymaker in his tiny shop, to the tiny plastic Kylo Ren that all the kids clamored for this past Christmas.

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Brick Journal Magazine

They even have the very set that was used to fake the moon landing.

The existence of LEGO Memory Lane is no secret, but you still can't go there. According to Brick Journal (a magazine by and for people who are altogether way too much into LEGO), the exact location of Memory Lane is unknown to the public, and no visitors are allowed. Even the most dedicated AFOL (the LEGO community's acronym for "Adult Fan Of LEGO") would find himself at the business end of a submachine gun if he tried to sneak in. This isn't kid's play, after all.

Disney's Animation Research Library

Walt Disney

The Disney Animation Research Library is a secret vault hidden somewhere in Los Angeles that houses some of Disney's most protected intellectual properties, kept at a constant temperature of 60 degrees F and 50 percent humidity. The treasures range from original artwork from Steamboat Willie to horrifying Mickey Mouse prototypes that Disney considers to be "a little off-model."

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Disney D23

Just like you have "a little" shit in your pants right now.

In 2012, when a YouTube star visited the archive and remarked upon the fact that a woman's decapitated head was a strange thing to present at the entrance, her host's only response was to shake her head and be all like, "Oh, sweet summer child."

"This is simply what happened to girls in the '30s who thought they could draw as well as men can."

According to those few who have been allowed into the Disney Archives, one condition of entry is that you surrender your phone so that you cannot report your location to social media, either deliberately or otherwise. We're sure they're just worried that somebody might steal the precious Mickey Mouse gas mask ...

The 6 Most Ridiculous Things That Are Guarded Like Fort Knox
Disney D23

It was the centerpiece toy of the Donald Duck and Cover playset.

But hey, if the visitor also gets the implication that nobody will ever find them if they go full Willy Wonka and break the rules, all the better.

Tyler is a writer and editor probably kicking about Asia somewhere. You can contact him through his magazine, his website, or @TylerRoney on Twitter.

Who doesn't love a good secret? Like did you know the MLB would probably go to shit without a certain kind of mud? Or that no one had any idea how the Chrysler Building would turn out? See what we mean in 7 Secrets Only Two Living People Know (For Some Reason) and 7 Mind-Blowing Structures Built In Secret.

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