An introduction to Juche Tower and the idea it represents
The Juche Tower
The Juche Tower (주체사상탑｜主體思想塔), 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'.
The Juche Idea
What is 'Juche'?
The Juche Tower, as the name suggests, is fully dedicated to the guiding principle of the DPRK: the Juche Idea. 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 people are the masters of the revolution in each country. It is like putting a cart before the horse that foreigners carry out the revolution for them. The revolution can neither be exported nor imported. The basis of the Juche Idea is that man is the master of all things and the decisive factor in everything.
So, pro tip: you can purchase On the Juche Idea in Pyongyang’s Foreign Languages Bookstore to find out more.
The Tower and View
When you enter the Juche Tower, you enter from its back. This area is decorated by somewhat of a mural of plaques donated by Juche Study Groups from various countries across the globe.
Once you’ve had a look to see if your home country has a study group, go through heavy stone doors and you get into the entrance area. In the entrance area to the Juche Tower, you will find some souvenirs, newspapers and drinks on offer. Inside you can also buy the tickets for the elevator to the top. If you're not a fan of heights, there are also comfy chairs for you to have a relax on.
For a 5 EUR fee (approx. 40 RMB / 6 USD) an elevator will get you to the 150m top 'balcony' located right under the iconic red torch (the torch only glows at night when the tower is closed for visitors). You will also have a local guide from the Juche Tower who can show you around the area, take you up to the top and point out the main sites of Pyongyang you can see from the top of the Juche Tower.
The 360-degree platform offers, especially on clear days, fascinating panoramic views of the city. You’ll find most iconic sights such as the infamous Ryugyong Hotel, Kim Il Sung Square, and the Grand People’s Study House, as well as some of the more modern architecture ('Pyonghattan', and Ryomyong Street) across the river on the west side of the city, and the pastel-coloured apartment blocks creating the charm of the eastern part.
The view will give you a much clearer idea of the locations of all the sights you have been or will be visiting in Pyongyang and will most certainly help you connect all the dots.
The Surrounding Area
If you go to the front of the Juche Tower you won’t just get to soak up the atmosphere and views of the Taedong riverbank, but also find an impressive large bronze statue of worker, peasant and intellectual right in front of the Juche Tower. The photo is hard to take from that angle but easy from the other side of the river when you visit Kim Il Sung Square. From there, you’ll have a great view of the symmetry surrounding the statue and the tower itself lined up on the banks of the river Taedong.
*At a 150m height, the open-air balcony can get very, very windy. With no real shelter up there, make sure to pack a jacket or sweater.
*The sun will be at a better angle for photos of the city’s iconic sights if you visit this sight earlier in the day.
*The elevator to the top is rather small and hence not recommendable for visitors suffering from claustrophobia.
*The forever-expanding array of drinks on sale inside the Juche Tower now includes one of Pyongyang's best coffees. Great for the winter months or for a refresh after exploring Pyongyang!
*Smoking is not allowed in the area around the tower. Smokers can light up in the parking lot on the street.
*The large bronze statue of a worker, farmer, and intellectual — the three groups comprising the Korean Workers' Party — is based on the Soviet 'Worker and Kolkhoz Woman' statue designed for the 1937 Paris World's Fair.
*Below is a short video on the Juche Tower.
Location and Access
On the East Bank of the Taedong River opposite Kim Il Sung Square and the Grand People's Study House.
It is open everyday, although sometimes closed for maintenance in the morning. The tower is also sometimes closed before major holidays with fireworks displays, for example, New Year's Eve.
You can see the Juche Tower on any of our trips to North Korea. What else can one see in North Korea? Download Koryo Tours' free 75-page guide to the country for a full list and follow the Koryo Tours Blog for in-depth descriptions.
Updated 1 January 2019
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