North Korea is definitely a novel place to be and a remarkable sight to see. With a trove of deep-rooted traditions and celebrated cultures, a visit to the monuments in North Korea departs from the sightseeing tours to bring you an enriching experience of scenic colonial buildings. Pyongyang is North Korea’s capital city, the country’s most populous city, and the most important commercial center and continues to flourish more than ever. Surrender yourself to the infectious energy of the locals, coated in the beautiful tongue of the North Korean language, as you embark on this journey, here are some of the top 10 monuments in North Korea:
List of Monuments in North Korea
1. Chollima Statue
Of all the North Korea statues, this is one of the oldest monuments in North Korea. On the 49th anniversary of the birth of the first leader, President Kim Il Sung, the Chollima statue was revealed. While a winged horse might seem an odd choice for the occasion, it commemorated a powerful post-war movement to rebuild the country’s devastated economy after the Korean War. Chollima translates into 1000-Ri Horse (about 400km) and is a legendary horse said to be able to cover that distance in a day, so the horse was used as inspiration for Korean workers. Exemplary factories such as the Chollima Steel Works also received the moniker (it was previously known as the Kangson Steel Works, after the county it’s located in).
Address: Sungri Street, Pyongyang, North Korea
2. United Front Monument
The monument is composed of two parts. The first is a revolutionary site; Suksom Revolutionary Site, commemorating a meeting Kim Il Sung held. This important monument in North Korea 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.
Address: United Front Monument, Pyongyang, North Korea.
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3. Metro Museum Diorama
North Koreans are truly talented when it comes to the art of dioramas and it’s always a challenge to spot where the background painting begins. While there is more than one diorama at the museum, our favorite is definitely the creatively-titled ‘Construction of Pyongyang Metro’. This historical landmark in North Korea is currently closed for renovations, but with the excellence of these dioramas, we’re fairly confident they’ll still be a feature after its modernization. Mansudae Art Studio was, of course, responsible for these Panoramas and has also famously created panoramas and dioramas for the Angkor Panorama Museum in Cambodia and Syria’s October War Museum.
Address: Metro Museum Diorama The Arch of Reunification, Pyongyang, North Korea.
4. The Juche Tower
Also known as the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Juche Tower is an iconic stone tower in Pyongyang, North Korea. The Juche Tower, a 150m high stone tower stands on the east bank of the Taedong River. This famous monument in North Korea was built in 1982. The letters on the front of the Juche Tower simply read ‘ 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.
Address: Juche Tower Street, Pyongyang, North Korea.
5. The Arch of Triumph
The North Korean Arch of Triumph was 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 60-meter stone archway is Pyongyang’s answer to Paris. The national monument in North Korea 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.
Address: The Arch of Triumph, Pyongyang, North Korea
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6. Kaeson Revolutionary Site Mural
This mural depicts the first speech given by Kim Il Sung after his return to Pyongyang and situated at the base of Moran Hill and close to both the Kaeson Metro station and Kaeson Youth Park. At the time he had earned a fair degree of fame for his role as an anti-Japanese guerrilla leader, but Soviet sponsorship of the event also surely helped to draw in a large crowd. This popular monument in North Korea depicts a crowd waving banners and cheering fervently for the returned leader. Notably absent, however, are the members of the Red Army and the Red Army medals that can be seen in photos taken during the event.
Address: Kaeson Revolutionary Site Mural, Pyongyang, North Korea
7. Ri In Mo Monument
This historical site in North Korea, the statue of Ri In Mo was erected in Pyongyang in 2008. Ri In Mo was the famous personality of the country who was born in 1917. It is said that he was a war correspondent who knows North Korea very well and this monument is a good place to hear the story of someone known to every secret of North Korea but to almost nobody outside. 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’.
Address: Pyongyang, North Korea
8. The Mansudae Grand Monument
The Mansudae Grand Monument, also known as the Grand Monument on Mansu Hill, is an iconic monument in North Korea. Not only iconic but also possibly/probably the most famous and recognizable monument out of all of them. This grand monument also includes large bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il, former leaders of the DPRK. The statues stand at an impressive 20-meter (66-foot) tall and are the centerpiece to the monument.
Address: The Mansudae Grand Monument, Pyongyang, North Korea
9. Monument to Party Founding
The Monument to Party Founding, more commonly known as the Party Foundation Monument is located in Pyongyang, North Korea (DPRK). This one of the ancient monuments in North Korea 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. 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.
Address: Monument to Party Founding, Pyongyang, North Korea
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10. Monument to the Decision Made at the Fork in the Road
Apart from a great name, this historical monument in North Korea is also dedicated to a great story. It is dedicated to a story told in one of President Kim Il Sung’s memoirs. The story is that in 1945, Kim Il Sung was returning home to Mangyongdae to see his family when he reached a fork in the road. One way led to his hometown and the other, to the Kangson region – an important center 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 and he later returned to Mangyongdae.
Address: Address: Pyongyang, North Korea.
11. Mansudae Art Studio
The Mansudae Art Studio is by far the most prestigious art studio and one of the beautiful monuments in North Korea. The country’s largest artistic works you will find here in Mansudae Art Studio from the Monuments at Mansu Hill to the Wangjaesan Grand Monument in the far northern county of Onsong. If you enter, you see at the entrance to the studio there are bronze statues of President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il riding horses. It makes quite an impression on what would seem an otherwise modest complex at first glance with large portraits framing the buildings alongside each leader and a joint portrait opposite.
12. The Arch of Reunification
Officially called the ‘Monument to the Three-Point Charter for National Reunification’, the Arch of Reunification, is a 30-meter tall arch dedicated to the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. With the southern border city of Kaesong, the Arch stretches over the Reunification Highway which connects Pyongyang and the North Korean Capital. This cultural monument in North Korea 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. In 2001, the arch was completed 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.
Address: The Arch of Reunification, Pyongyang, North Korea
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