Soviet Military
Memorials in
the DPRK

A photo series published by the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang with additional commentary from Koryo Tours

The Russian Embassy in Pyongyang runs a fascinating Facebook page on the DPRK with regular posts on history, culture, and photos from Pyongyang. Make sure to follow them @RusEmbDPRK.

Today the embassy posted a series of fascinating photo series on Russian Military Memorials in the DPRK, which the embassy is active in maintaining throughout the country. Here is a description of the locations and activities from the website of the Russian Embassy.

The burial-grounds of the Soviet military and civilian personnel are located in Pyongyang, Wonsan (Kangwon province), Chongjin and Rajin (North Hamgyong province), Hamhung (South Hamgyong province), Uiju (North Pyongan province). In all, there are 11 common and 345 personal graves. According to the information possessed by the Russian Embassy to the DPRK, the archives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and data obtained from the Korean side the total number of the former Soviet citizens buried in the country is 1373 (of which 544 are unknown), including 991 military personnel (257 remain unknown). The main part of the discovered burial places dates back to the years of 1945-1948 and the later period up to 1959.

Besides, there are monuments ('Monuments of Liberation') to the Soviet soldiers fallen in the battles for Korea’s liberation in Pyongyang, Haeju (South Hwanghae province), Nampo (South Pyongan province), Chongjin (North Hamgyong province), Tongrim and Sinuiju (North Pyongan province).

Local authorities – provincial and municipal People Committees, as well as appropriate committees of the Korean-Russian friendship societies are taking care of cemeteries (memorials) and keep them in a normal condition. Diplomats of the Russian Embassy, Defense Attaché office and Consulate-General in Chongjin visit these places on regular basis to check their condition and to hold wreath-laying ceremonies on memorable dates (Fatherland Defender’s Day, Victory Day, Day of Russia, Russia’s Diplomats Day and Korea Liberation Day). Due to joint efforts with the Korean side, military memorials are kept in good condition.

The Russian Embassy continues to play a prominent role in the preservation of history in the DPRK as well as supporting the foreign community. Any visitor to Pyongyang can go see the Monument to Liberation in Pyongyang (below). Vladimir Putin once visited here.

Below are the photos posted on the embassy’s Facebook page with our own commentary based on images and the description provided by the embassy. All photos are property of the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang.

‘The 355th Marine Battalion at the tomb of their fallen comrades in Chongjin, August 1945’. Soviet forces entered the war against Japan on August 9, 1945 and by August 20 had liberated Manchuria and northern Korea as far as the 38th parallel.

‘Monument to fallen Soviet sailors in Chongjin old town’. This area and monument were likely destroyed during the Korean War. We have a previous blog post on Chongjin Harbour both before and after the Korean War.

‘Distinguished Russian Koreanist Pavel Yakolev presents a wreath at the opening ceremony of the Monument to Soviet Soldiers in Chongjin’. The large Korean text says ‘Mourning the Dead’ (추모- 追慕).

This photo appears to be at the same ceremony in Chongjin.

‘The first monument to sailors in Chongjin’. Also likely destroyed during the Korean War.

‘A monument to Soviet soldiers in Chongjin’

‘Students of the embassy school at the monument to Soviet soldiers in front of the (Pyongyang) railway station. The monument was dismantled in 1976’.Pyongyang's Victory Street was formally called Stalin Street (쓰딸린 거리).

‘Diplomat and Koreanist at the liberation monument in Sinuiju in the late 1970’s.' This monument is near the central square in Sinuiju.

‘Embassy staff at a monument in Rajin in May 1978’.

‘We also regularly place flowers on the Russian soldiers who died in battle on the r. At the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War (1 May 1904). Dandong, China.’ American writer Jack London was present at his battle and wrote a report for the San Francisco Chronicle in 'Jack London’s Graphic Story of the Japs Driving Russians Across the Yalu River' (see here).

Images from the the Soviet graveyard in Pyongyang.

Simply 'Nikolai' (1884-1949).

Some of those buried in the graveyard were Soviet citizens of Korean descent or their children. Above the grave of Tyon Valeri Marta (1942-1950). The surname Tyon is likely 'Chon', which said in the local Pyong'an Province dialect is pronounced 'T'yon'. (Today Simon Cockerell also posted about a famous Soviet Korean, rock star Victor Tsoi, of a later generation).

The grave of Han Yang Hui (1898-1952), likely a Soviet Korean.

The grave of Nam Jong Hae (1917-1959).

The grave of Kim Shura (1950-7). The inscription is written with 'Kim' in Korean and 'Shurik', the diminutive of Shura.

Ri Yong Sok (1921-1955).

The grave of Pak Natasha (1958-9), an infant likely born to Soviet Korean parents in Pyongyang.

Below are some examples of modern day ceremonies held at these monuments.

For more updates from Pyongyang, follow the Russian Embassy on Facebook @RusEmbDPRK!

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