The iconic bronze statues of the DPRK leadership in central Pyongyang.
The Mansudae Grand Monument
The Mansudae Grand Monument (만수대대기념비 | 萬壽臺大紀念碑), or Grand Monument on Mansu Hill, is an iconic monument in Pyongyang, North Korea. 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.
Koreans will usually go to pay their respects to the statues at least once a year. It is a common activity on national holidays among people from all sections of society.
The Mansudae Grand Monument was first unveiled in 1972 to celebrate the 60th birthday of President Kim Il Sung. At this time, there was only one statue of President Kim Il Sung. After General Kim Jong Il passed away, a second statue was unveiled to commemorate him in 2012.
At the same time that this second statue was produced, the statue of President Kim Il Sung was renovated to portray him looking at a later age and smiling.
Behind the Grand Monument Statues, you can see the Korean Revolution Museum building. On the wall of this building is a large mosaic mural which presents Mount Paektu — a sacred site for the Korean people.
On either side of the statues, there are two other monuments that line the sides to the two statues. These statues show different soldiers, farmers, and workers during the anti-Japanese struggle.
It is important to remember that the Mansudae Grand Monument is considered one of the most sacred areas in North Korea and is not considered a tourist sight.
You should remain respectful during your entire visit here.
When visiting the Mansudae Grand Monument, you will first be expected to line up as a group in front of the statues and bow in front of the President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il statues.
Those who have bought flowers (see below for purchasing flowers) will first walk together to place them at the foot of the statues, then walk back to join the group in making a bow.
It is then correct etiquette to listen to the local explanation about the history of the statues.
You may then explore the site and take photos afterwards.
When visiting the Mansudae Grand Monument Statues, you can prepare yourself by remembering these main rules;
*No chewing gum.
*No sitting on the ground at the front of the statues.
*No shouting or loud noises.
*No walking off too far.
*There is no smoking allowed on the site.
Don’t worry, your local guide and tour leader will go over these rules for you again before you visit the site.
Rules on Taking Photographs
Photos are permitted at the site, however it is important that you make sure to capture the full image of both of the figures in your photographs. No selfies are allowed, and pictures should be kept respectful. When taking pictures, it is important to keep your hands by your side, remove any hats and sunglasses, and keep your pose respectful. No pulling tongues… but smiling is definitely acceptable.
* If you do not feel comfortable bowing this is no problem. However, you will not be permitted to visit the Mansudae Grand Monument Statues.
* There are toilets at the bottom of the Mansudae Grand Monument Statue hill where the parking lot is. If you need to go to the bathroom, you can ask one of your Korean guides to show you where it is.
* There is also a small shop at the parking lot where you can stock up with water or snacks. You can only pay in local currency here and they won’t speak English, so please ask for assistance from your Korean guide.
* If you wish to purchase flowers to present at the site, these are available for purchase before you walk up the hill. They cost between 5 EUR, but you can also purchase more expensive, bigger bunches.
* If you are lucky, there may be a professional group photographer on the site. He can take a group image of everyone which you can purchase and take home with you. This costs about 3-5 EUR.
* The monuments of the people alongside the statues represent real people that existed during the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle.
* The statue of Kim Jong Il originally featured him in a long coat. However, this was soon after changed to his signature parka coat.
Location and Access
The Chollima Statue
When visiting the Mansudae Grand Monument, you can also pay a visit to the Chollima Statue, which stands just to the right hand side of the statues.
This is a statue of the Korean mythical winged horse that is said to be able to run 1,000 ri (400 km) per day. This represents the rapid reconstruction of Pyongyang city after the war. It was built by the famous Mansudae Art Studio.