Juche in a Strange City

One thing you have to do in North Korea is show your deference to the great leader.

Showing Respect

You must buy a bunch of flowers and present them to Kim Il Sung’s statue on Mansu Hill. Then you must back away as you can’t show your back to the statue. This is overseen very carefully by your tour guide so he is not shamed by the behaviour of his tourists. A bit  weird but it is a very important part of understanding what life is like here. You cannot talk to the locals and although the guides try you have absolutely no cultural references in common. We were shown Beatles CD’s as a sign of how modern they were.


When Kim Il Sung died in 2011 a statue of Kim Jong Il was added.


A visit to the Juche tower is essential (to your hosts). This was built to celebrate the seventieth birthday of Kim Il Sung. 25,550 blocks, one for everyday of his life.  It is a symbol of the supreme leaders personal philosophy. Every citizen must make the nation great. This is Juche or KimIlsing-ism.

Kumsusan Memorial Palace

I’ve seen a few memorials but this one is bigger and grander than any other.  To visit the palace you must be dressed “in the appropriate manner.” You queue outside to go in and you must empty you pockets. My paracetamol was confiscated, you are only allowed heart pills. You then go through an x ray machine and a dust blower. The atmosphere is reverential and gloomy. Kim Il Sung lies in a glass sarcophagus covered in the workers party of  Korea flag with his head on a traditional Korean pillow. No photos are allowed and you must be very quiet and respectful. Nowadays his son Kim Jong Il lies nearby.

The Martyrs cemetery is near and is for the resistance fighters who died during the Japanese occupation. The graves of the wife and mother of Kim Il-sung are also here.



This suburb of Pyongyang is where Kim Il Sung grew up. You are taken to see his humble origins that are preserved for the nation,

Division & Reunification


The Reunification highway goes from Pyongyang to the DMZ ( demilitarised zone). The Arch of Reunification goes over it just outside Pyongyang. Two traditionally dressed women  hold a map of a united Korea. Its easy to take photos as you can stand in the middle of the road with no danger of a car running you over.

You are taken to the Demilitarised zone, a buffer area between the two Koreas. Peace was never agreed so technically the two countries are still at war. The blue buildings at the border contain a conference table placed over the  border line.



Monument to the autograph of Kim Il Sung. His final signature on 7th July 1994, the day before he died.