An introduction to the mausoleum of the DPRK leaders in Pyongyang.
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (금수산태양궁전 | 錦繡山太陽宮殿) is a maosoleum complex in Pyongyang, North Korea (DPRK). It serves as a mausoleum of the DPRK leadership where President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il lie in state. It was formerly called the Kumsusan Memorial Palace and the Kumsusan Assembly Hall.
It is the largest mausoleum in the world at 115,000 square feet (10,700 m2), with some halls inside the building up to one kilometer (3,300 ft) long.
Koreans living in or near the capital Pyongyang will visit here once a year or less, only kept for special occasions. Some Korean people will never get the chance to visit. They often visit as families, or in large groups as a school or work outing.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is open to foreign traveler only of a Thursday and Sunday morning, or on special occasions.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun was built in 1976. At this time, it was the Kumsusan Assembly Hall and served as President Kim Il Sung’s office and official residence. In 1994, the building underwent renovations to turn it into the Kumusan Memorial Palace.
The palace was shut down after the sudden passing of leader General Kim Jong Il.
The building was formally renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. On this day, also the date commemorating leader Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday, there was a military parade and fireworks.
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun completes renovations and reopens to the public. It was renovated to include a new separate room and section for General Kim Jong Il.
The outside grounds also opened as a park to the public after renovations.
Inside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is an incredibly large and grand building. Inside the Palace of the Sun, you will find various rooms, grand hallways, large ceilings and incredible decorations.
As you enter, you will first go through a security check. You should leave all your belongings behind either in the bus or in the cloakroom area.
After going through the security check, you will begin your visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. You will stand on travelators as you are taken deeper into the building. To either side of you, you will see images of both President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il.
There are rooms dedicated to the medals and achievements of both of the Great Leaders, as well as rooms dedicated to gifts they received during their time ruling. This includes gifts, awards, and achievements from countries all over the world.
There are rooms that show both of the Great Leaders’ travel both throughout the country, and abroad. As well as this, there is also the train in which General Kim Jong Il passed away, left in the same state that he left it in.
There is also an outside park in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun area where you are free to take pictures. This will be your last stop during your visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
The Mausoleum Chamber
The bodies of both President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il lie in state in glass coffins in separate rooms. Entering the mausoleum, you will go through a large door that blasts air like a hairdryer. After going through this, you will then go through the main doors to the mausoleum chamber.
You will then enter with your group to the centre of the hall. In rows of four, you will make a bow at the feet and both sides of the body. You should pass by the head and not stop to take a bow here. You will then walk out of the room in one line.
For visiting both rooms, this is the same process.
The video below from DPRK news shows a state visit by the leader Kim Jong Ung and the cabinet. It provides images of the interior of the mausoleum and an example of how one must behave inside.
When visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, it is important to note that there are some vital visiting regulations that you must follow.
It is important to remember that visiting mausoleum is not a normal tourist activity. It is a DPRK state-administered site and one of the most sacred places to the North Korean people. The visit is akin to attending a funeral. You should maintain respectful behaviour throughout your entire visit until you exit the mausoleum grounds by bus.
Before visiting the location, it is important to familiarise yourself with the process of the visit. Please keep in mind that these regulations do change from time to time and it is important to pay attention to instructions provided on the spot by mausoleum staff, local guides, and your tour leaders.
Your local guides will over the visiting regulations with you verbally and be there to guide you through the visit, but it is also good to prepare yourself beforehand.
Koryo Tours provides both written and verbal instructions to all visitors prior to the visit. If you have any questions about these instructions, please consult your tour guides and tour leader.
We strongly recommend against visiting the mausoleum if you are not prepared or unwilling to follow the regulations associated with the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
For the visit:
• Wear smart clothing. Men are required to wear a collared shirt with tie and dark or khaki non-jean trousers. Women require covered shoulders and a knee-length dress or non-jean trousers. Both men and women need plain or formal closed-toed shoes. You should look presentable and smart. Make an effort!
• Clean/polish your shoes before entering.
• Stick with your group inside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at all times.
• Make a bow when requested. This will be requested of you multiple times as you visit different areas in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun. If you feel uncomfortable bowing, then you should not visit the mausoleum. Please let your tour guides and tour leader know as far ahead of time as possible if you feel you are unable to visit the mausoleum for whatever reason. In some cases, alternative activities can be arranged. If not, the alternative is to wait on the bus while the group visits.
• Leave all of your items on the bus or back in the hotel. You will not need a camera as photographs are not permitted inside. You can give you cameras to your guides to store in the cloakroom.
• Turn your phone off if you are taking it off the bus. The phone needs to be turned completely off and not just turned on silent.
• Keep your hands by your sides, especially important when taking a bow.
• Do not wear open toe or open heel shoes.
• Do not shout or run around the grounds.
• Do not chew gum or smoke on the site.
• Do not put your hands behind your back when making a bow.
* Do not talk loudly or laugh.
*Do not lean on or touch things.
Visitors under 17 are not allowed to visit the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
• You should follow all of the above visiting regulations.
• Paying a visit to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun will usually mean an early morning start. It is important to know what time you are leaving in the morning, and make sure to be on time and dressed appropriately. This is particularly important for national holidays when the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun may be extremely busy. It is important to get there early to make sure you don’t fall behind the potential large queues of other visitors.
• If you have dressed in a suit or other clothing that isn’t completely comfortable, you can take a separate outfit with you for the day and change into that outfit after you have finished visiting the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
*The song played within the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is a version of "Song of General Kim ll Sung" (김일성장군의 노래).
Location and Access
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is located about 20-30 minutes outside of the centre of Pyongyang. You can access the mausoleum by bus or car.
The mausoleum typically closes for annual renovations between early May and early July each year.