What to See in North Korea

By | July 18, 2022

Any tour of North Korea begins with a visit to the capital of the country – the city of Pyongyang . The city sits on the banks of the Taedong-gun and Potong-gun rivers in western North Korea. Translated from Korean, its name means “wide land” or “cozy place”. The exact date of the founding of the city is not known, but it is known for certain that already in the 5th century AD. Pyongyang It was the capital of the state of Goguryeo, that is, the entire northern part of the Korean Peninsula. The favorable geographical position on the Taedong-gan River near the coast of the West Korea Bay predetermined the fate of the city – it has always been an important trading center. In the middle of the 20th century, during the Korean Patriotic War, the city was almost completely destroyed. At the end of the war, Pyongyang was restored. Now the city has the status of a separate administrative unit, equated to the province.

According to Top-mba-universities, the center of Pyongyang is the Kim Il Sung Square.. It was built in 1954 on the right bank of the Taedong River. The area covers an area of 75 thousand square meters. m. and completely paved with granite. All public holidays, demonstrations, colorful processions and parades are held here. The square houses the Korea Art Gallery and the Central History Museum of Korea. At the Central Historical Museum on the embankment there are Taedong gates, preserved from the ancient fortress wall. Not far from here is the bell of the ancient Pyongyang fortress weighing about 13 tons. This bell was cast in the 18th century to replace a destroyed 6th century bell. Also of interest here is the Rengwan gazebo from the time of the Goguryeo state, with murals.

Opposite the Kim Il Sung Square on the other side of the river stands one of the most outstanding monuments of Pyongyang – the Juche Idea Monument which is visible from almost anywhere in the city. This is truly a grand building. The monument was erected in 1982 for the 70th anniversary of Kim Il Sung. It has a 170-meter tower crowned with a 20-meter-high red torch. On the front and back of the tower there are golden letters folded into the word “Juche”. The tower itself is made of 70 granite blocks, and 70 flowers are engraved on the stone slabs of its pedestal, which symbolizes the 70th birthday of Kim Il Sung. The tower has an elevator that takes tourists to the observation deck located on the torch. The site offers a breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings. On the back side of the pedestal, in a niche, there is a wall assembled from more than 200 marble and granite slabs sent by Juche adherents from around the world. In front of the tower you can see a 30-meter sculptural composition. It consists of sculptures of a worker, a peasant woman and an intellectual, each holding his own tool of labor: a hammer, a sickle and a brush. The crossed hammer, sickle and brush are the emblem of the Workers’ Party of Korea. There is a park around the Juche Idea Monument, and in front of the monument, right in the middle of the Taedong River, there are 2 fountains that can throw a column of water to a height of 150 m, which makes them one of the tallest fountains in the world.

Behind Kim Il Sung Square on Namsan Hill is the People’s Study Palace (1982). It is the largest Korean-style building in North Korea. The People’s Palace of Studies has a total area of ​​100,000 square meters. m. He is famous for the fact that his library contains more than 30 million books. Nearby is the building of the Art Theater (1976), decorated with mosaics and reliefs, which is surrounded by fountains. To the north of Kim Il Sung Square rises Mansu-de hill. The hill is crowned by the sculptural ensemble of Kim Il Sung and the Museum of the Korean Revolution, to which several rows of wide stairs lead. The central place in the sculptural ensemble of Kim Il Sung is occupied by a bronze statue of Kim Il Sung, 22 meters high, which was installed on his 60th birthday in 1972. On either side of the statue of Kim Il Sung are sculptural groups symbolizing the anti-Japanese war and the Patriotic Liberation War. They are 23-meter flag monuments, which have more than 100 sculptures. Behind the monuments is the Museum of the Korean Revolution. Its wall is decorated with a 70 x 13 m mosaic depicting the Paektu-san volcano, where Korean partisans once hid. The mosaic is the backdrop for the sculptural ensemble of Kim Il Sung. In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, a monument commemorating the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The monument consists of a pedestal in the form of a ring, on which there are sculptures in the form of outstretched hands holding a hammer, sickle and brush. The height of the monument and the diameter of the ring are 50 m each, these dimensions are reminiscent of the 50th anniversary of the formation of the party. Not far from here, on the hillside of Mansu-de, stands the Chollima Monument .. It was installed on April 15, 1961 on the occasion of Kim Il Sung’s 49th birthday. The Chollima is a winged horse from Korean mythology that is known for its stamina. A worker is sitting on a horse, holding a “Red Letter” from the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and a peasant woman. The total height of the monument is 46 m. ​​Chollima was erected in order to show the spirit and boundless strength of the Korean people spent on rebuilding the country after the Korean War of 1950-1953. On the hill, you can also see the 15th century Sunryong Temple, which was built in honor of the mythical hero King Tangun.

At the Mansu-de hill rises another hill – Moran-bon. It is considered the most picturesque place in the city. The hill is occupied by numerous parks with lush vegetation and flowers. In addition, historical monuments built during the period of the Goguryeo state are stored here. The ancient monuments are interesting: Pubek arbor , Ylmir arbor, Henmu gate, Chweseung arbor and Chilson gate. Of the monuments of modern history, on the Moran-bon hill is the Liberation Monument, which was erected in 1946 in memory of the dead Soviet soldiers who fought for the liberation of the DPRK. It is a stele 30 m high, on top of which there is a five-pointed star. At the foot of the Moran-bon hill you can see the Arc de Triomphe. It was installed in 1982 at the site where, in 1945, after the defeat of Japan in World War II, Kim Il Sung delivered a speech on the independence of the nation. In fact, this is just one of the local “legends” about the Great Leader that the Koreans love to compose. The arch is a copy of the French Arc de Triomphe, only the Korean arch is slightly larger. The height of the Arc de Triomphe is 60 m, the travel arches are 27 m high. Not far from here is the Kim Il Sung Stadium. It is one of the largest stadiums in the world. At the entrance to the stadium, a huge mosaic panel 45 m long and 15 m high weighs. The panel depicts Kim Il Sung, speaking in 1945 to the people with a speech about the independence of the state. The total area of ​​the stadium is 146 thousand square meters. m, the stadium can accommodate 100 thousand spectators. The 1967 Pyongyang TV Tower rises in the vicinity of Moran-bon Hill. In the tower on the upper floors there is a restaurant, from where the whole city is visible at a glance. Opposite Moran-bong Hill on Seungna Island, located in the riverbed of the Taedong-gun, is the May Day Stadium. This is the largest stadium in the world, because its capacity is about 150 thousand spectators. It is here that the festive events of the Arirang festival take place. In the northeastern part

Pyongyang, 10 km from the city center is the Kumsusan Palace with the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung, which is the largest mausoleum in the world. Bowing to the body of the Great Leader is the duty of every inhabitant of the country who has reached the age of 18. You need to walk to the palace on foot from the square, located about a kilometer from it. Before entering the mausoleum, you must go through a security check and hand over all personal belongings. The palace has several halls, in one of them there is a sarcophagus with the body of the Great Leader. There are also halls with awards of Kim Il Sung and halls with sculptures depicting the day the leader died. Near the mausoleum on Chuzhak hill there is a memorial complex with a cemetery of revolutionary comrades-in-arms of Kim Il Sung. At the foot of the hill Chuzhak are the remains of the wall of the Tesonsan fortress. Now there is an amusement park, a zoo and a botanical garden. In the Botanical Garden, you can see interesting types of flowers – Kimirsenghwa and Kimjongirhwa. Kimersenkhwa was brought out in Indonesia and presented to the Great Leader, kimchenirhwa was brought out by a Japanese and presented to the Great Leader. The garden also has an arboretum and an incense garden. In the southern part of the city, the monument of the Three Charters of the Reunification of the Motherland is interesting.. It was opened in 2001. The height of the monument is 30 m, and the total area is 110 thousand square meters. m. The monument is made in the form of an arch, the vaults of which are sculptures of two women who stretch towards each other. Women support an emblem with the letters “Three Charters” and a map of Korea. They symbolize the warring south and north of the Korean Peninsula, who still want to unite. On both sides, the pedestals of the monument are decorated with bas-reliefs. In the southwestern part of Pyongyang is the modern district of Mangyong-de. Here on the Mangyong hill is the reconstructed home of Kim Il Sung. This is a real place of pilgrimage for Koreans. Small houses in the spirit of the 19th century were built around it, where household items typical of the Great Leader’s childhood and his personal belongings are exhibited. The symbolic burial place of Kim Il Sung’s parents is also located here. In addition, an amusement park and the Palace of Pioneers are located in Mangen-de. Tongmyong Tomb is located 32 km west of Pyongyang. It is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. Dongmyeong was the founder of the Goguryeo state. He was originally buried in China, and later his remains were transferred to this place. On the territory of the grave complex there is a chapel, memorial plaques describing the life of Tongmyeon, statues of animals and officials, an altar, burials of people from the immediate environment of Tongmyeon and the tomb itself. The grave hill, in which the tomb is located, has a height of 11.6 m. The ancient wall paintings of the grave complex are interesting. Not far from the complex is the Buddhist temple Chongryn with a seven-tiered pagoda.

From Pyongyang, it is also worth going to the foot of Mount Taebak, where the tomb of Tangun is located.. The fact that it is Tangun that rests in this tomb has not been proven, however, Korean scientists believe that the found remains, about 5000 years old, belong to this mythical king. There is a legend that Tangun, the son of the god Hwanung, founded the first state on the peninsula and became the progenitor of all Koreans. It happened in the 30th century BC. Tangun’s tomb has 9 levels and is 22 meters high. It symbolizes Mount Paektu. The grave complex includes an altar, sculptures of the sons of Tangun, his associates and tigers, which are designed to protect the king.

To the west of the administrative region of the city of Pyongyang is the province of South Pyongyang (Pyongyang-namdo). Here it is worth going to the graves of the village of Tokhwa. These burials belong to the period of the Goguryeo state and are famous for their frescoes. The frescoes of the tombs depict not only mythical animals, plants and people’s faces, but also entire maps of the starry sky. Also of interest are the frescoes of the Gangsong grave in the village of Sammyo, the frescoes of the grave in the village of Ryongbong with diagrams of the ancient Ryodongson fortress, and the Anguk Buddhist temple in the city of Pyeongsong of the early 6th century.

In the province of southern Pyongyang, 40 km south of the city of Pyongyang, at the mouth of the Taedong-gan River, there is the main international port and trade center of the country – the city of Nampo. 15 km west of the city there is a whole hydro complex with dams, dams and locks. It stretches for 8 km at the mouth of the Taedong-gan River.

South of Nampo is the province of South Hwanghae (Hwanghae-namdo). People go here on excursions to the Kuwolsan mountain range. Its name means “nine moon mountains” in Korean. The maximum height in these places reaches 954 m. Traveling through the Kuwolsan mountains, you can see mountain valleys, waterfalls, thermal springs and the remains of the palace complexes of the State of Sila and the restored Woljeong Temple. The Woljong Temple was built in the 9th century in the Chor Gorge and later rebuilt several times. The temple complex consists of several pavilions and pavilions, which store old paintings. Also in the summer, in the mountains of Kuwolsan, there is a Samson resort with a variety of attractions and opportunities for outdoor activities, it is not for nothing that its name is translated as “Land of Entertainment”. Haeju is located in the southernmost province of South Hwanghae on the coast of the Yellow Sea.. From here, cruises are arranged along the Haejuman Bay, in which numerous small islands are scattered.

East along the coast is the ancient city of Kaesong . It is located 125 km south of Pyongyang near the border with South Korea. Kaesong was the capital of the first unified state of Goryeo from the 10th to the 14th centuries. At that time, the city was surrounded by three rows of fortifications, parts of which have survived to this day. See the Namdae-mun gate in Kaesong, left over from the inner fortress wall that surrounded the royal palace. The gate was badly damaged during the Patriotic War of Liberation and was restored in 1954. The Koryo Palace itself has not survived to this day, only the ruins of the foundations of some buildings remain, including the ruins of one of the world’s first star observatories. Kaesong is home to one of the world’s oldest universities, the 11th century Sungkyun-wang. The university opened the Koryo History Museum, which tells about the first united state of the Korean Peninsula. The museum also displays collections of local handicrafts and has a souvenir shop. It is worth noting that since its formation, Kaesong became a center of crafts and an important trading center. Here the basics of porcelain production were born, writing objects and medicines from ginseng were produced. To this day, Kaesong ginseng is considered one of the best in the world and is exported to other countries. In addition, the Seonjuk Bridge is interesting in Kaesong. It was built in 1216 and miraculously preserved to this day. Not far from the bridge, in a special pavilion, which stands on 2 stone turtles, some chronicles of the Li dynasty are kept. On the outskirts of the city is King Wang Gon’s Tomb, which is part of the extensive burial site of the Goryeo royal families. Panmun-jeom village is located 7 km from Kaesong.

It is interesting in that a demarcation line separating North and South Korea runs 1 km from it. It was here that negotiations were held between the two belligerent states during the Patriotic War of Liberation and an armistice agreement was signed. The meeting room where these events took place is now open to tourists. At the demarcation line, 150-meter masts with the flag of each of them rise from the sides of each state. Interestingly, the line is real, it is a concrete strip 7 cm high. To visit this area, you need to obtain a special permit. Pakyeong Waterfall is located 25 km north of Kaesong.. Here, from a height of 37 m, a stream of water falls into a natural pool. The waterfall is most attractive after the rainy season. Next to it is a pavilion “for contemplation”, from where a beautiful view of the waterfall opens. At the top of Pakyeong Falls, you can see the gates of Daeheungsan Fortress. From the ancient fortress, the Buddhist temple Kwanum of 970, which was rebuilt in the middle of the 17th century, has been preserved. The temple was built without the use of nails. It has a seven-tiered pagoda, behind which is a cave, which in ancient times served for rituals.

What to See in North Korea