An introduction to North Korea's monuments and statues and their significance
United Front Monument
Monument to the Potong River Improvement Project
Monument to the Decision Made at the Fork in the Road
Ri In Mo Monument
The Arch of Reunification
The Mansudae Grand Monument
The Chollima Statue
Monument to Party Founding
The Juche Tower
The Arch of Triumph
North Korea has hundreds of monuments and statues dotted around the country. They all have deep-rooted historical significance or hold important symbolism.
Today, we’re just going to look at some of the monuments in Pyongyang alone, and explore their historical significance and symbolism.
The monument complex is composed of two parts. The first is a revolutionary site; Suksom Revolutionary Site, commemorating a meeting Kim Il Sung held. The monument itself is a stone tower with the inscription “United Front Tower” and a quote by Kim Il Sung inscribed on the foundation.
The quote is glorifying the efforts of patriotic people both from the North and South who united to achieve the liberation and unification of Korea.
Pyongyang’s main river, the Taedonggang (‘gang’ means river) is one of the longest in Korea, it has many tributaries.
In Pyongyang itself, the main secondary channel is the Potonggang, the Potong River, which merges with the Taedong just to the south of the city (at a point looked over by the Ryanggang (‘two rivers’) Hotel.
Apart from a great name, this monument is also dedicated to a great story.
It is dedicated to a story told in one of President Kim Il Sung’s memoirs.
According to the story, Kim Il Sung was returning home to Mangyongdae in 1945 to see his family when he reached a fork in the road.
One way led to his hometown.
The other, to the Kangson region – an important centre for heavy industry.
He went to Kangson to deliver on-the-spot guidance to the factory-workers and see what could be done about rejuvenating the area in the aftermath of liberation from the Japanese.
He later returned to Mangyongdae.
The statue of Ri In Mo was erected in Pyongyang in 2008.
The Ri In Mo Monument is a good spot to hear the story of someone known to everyone inside North Korea but to almost nobody outside.
Who is Ri In Mo?
Ri In Mo was born in 1917.
He is universally known to the DPRK population due to being the most famous of a group known as ‘former long-term unconverted prisoners of war’.
The Arch of Reunification, officially the ‘Monument to the Three-Point Charter for National Reunification’ is a 30-metre tall arch dedicated to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.
The Arch stretches over the Reunification Highway which connects Pyongyang, the North Korean Capital, with the southern border city of Kaesong. It depicts two Korean women dressed in traditional garb, one representing the north and the other the south, holding a bronze map of the peninsula. The base of the arch is emblazoned with bronze murals on both sides depicting revolutionary scenes.
The arch was completed in 2001 at the height of the ‘Sunshine Policy’, a government policy implemented by South Korea in the late 1990s and early 2000s to lower the risk of conflict between the two rival states. The policy led to a notable thaw in tensions creating the conditions for the first Inter-Korean Summit in 2000 between President Kim Dae Jung of South Korea and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il of North Korea.
The Mansudae Grand Monument, or Grand Monument on Mansu Hill, is an iconic monument in Pyongyang, North Korea.
And possibly/probably the most famous and recognisable monument out of all of them.
The Mansudae Grand Monument includes large bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il, former leaders of the DPRK. The statues are the central piece to the monument and stand at an impressive 20-meter (66-foot) tall.
It is a statue of a winged mythical horse named ‘Chollima’, which symbolises the Stakhanovite 'Chollima Movement' which helped rebuild North Korea following the Korean War. Today the Chollima is synonymous with great speed and progress in the DPRK.
The Monument to Party Founding, more commonly known as the Party Foundation Monument is located in Pyongyang, North Korea (DPRK).
he monument is made up of a massive granite hammer, sickle and calligraphy brush — symbols of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), the ruling party of North Korea — and surrounded by a belt that reads in Korean:
The organizers of the victory of the Korean people and the leader of the Workers Party of Korea!
— 조선인민의 모든 승리의 조직자이며 향도자인 조선로동당 만세!
These three symbols represent the core classes represented by the Workers Party of Korea. The hammer and sickle symbolize the worker and farmers of ‘traditional’ communist ideology, while the calligraphy brush represents the intellectual class.
The Juche Tower, also known as the Tower of the Juche Idea, is an iconic stone tower in Pyongyang, North Korea.
The Juche Tower is 150m high stone tower plus 20m high adorning glow-at-night torch and stands on the east bank of the Taedong River. It was built in 1982.
The letters on the front of the Juche Tower '주체' simply read ' Juche’.
What is 'Juche'?
The Juche idea itself would likely take up several blog posts and yet require more explanation, so we will keep this part fairly short. According to the Juche Idea, the man is the master of his own fate. But that’s by far not all that’s to it.
The North Korean Arch of Triumph is a 60-meter stone archway built to commemorate the role of President Kim Il Sung in the ‘Anti-Japanese Armed Struggle’ and the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule in 1945. This is Pyongyang’s answer to Paris.
The monument itself was constructed for the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung on 15 April 1982 with an accompanying mural added nearby in 1985 to mark the president’s 75th birthday.