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The spirit of self-reliance lives on in North Korea

Raquel R. Bacay / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
A panoramic view from the Juche Tower. The Yanggakdo International Hotel, where Khmer Times publisher and I stayed is at the center of the Taedong River. KT/Raquel R. Bacay

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il-sung. Raquel R. Bacay, of Khmer Times, was in Pyongyang recently and she saw first-hand how the Juche gives reverence to the people as the powerhouse of the nation, with two monuments devoted to the ideology.

The visit to DPRK was a surreal experience, especially the reverence given to the first leader and the late President Kim II-sung. These are exemplified in all aspects of the people’s lives and in the city via the construction of many monuments, granite slabs with inscriptions by the revered leader and of course The Juche Tower in Pyongyang.

This is in the capital of North Korea and named after the ideology of Juche introduced by the country’s first leader and President, Kim Il-sung.

Arch of Triumph built on the Triumph Return Square. KT/Raquel R. Bacay

The 170-metre granite structure in the capital Pyongyang comprises a four-sided tapering 150-metre spire, containing 25,550 blocks of equal dimension, with each block signifying each day of the late President Kim Il-sung’s life.

Its facade consists of white stone with seventy dividers and capped with a 20-metre high, 45-ton illuminated metal torch.

The torch on top of the tower is said to be always lit and we were taken to the pinnacle of the tower, just below the torch by an elevator which ascended to the top in exactly 90 seconds. The wide views over Pyongyang from the viewing platform just below the torch were simply breathtaking.

Juche Tower and Worker’s Party Monument. KT/Raquel R. Bacay

The tour guide, who had graduated from the Pyongyang University with a major in English, explained the historical significance and the emotional attachment to the tower as it signified the people of DPRK’s acceptance of the Juche spirit of self-reliance and encompassed it in every aspect of their daily life.

At the entrance of the tower, a mural wall carrying 82 friendship plaques from foreign supporters of the Juche spirit and ideology are placed, including the ones from Juche study groups from many corners of the world.

At the base of the tower is a 30-metre high statue comprising the three idealised figures, each signifying a worker with a hammer to show construction and development, a worker with a sickle signifying a farmer and another signifying a scholar holding a writing brush. Both structures overlook the Taedong river where soldiers were seen practicing for a major festival in September.

The guide explained that that the three tools form the insignia on the flag of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea and are surrounded by six smaller groups of figures which are 10 metres in height, symbolising other aspects of the much revered Juche ideology.

The mural wall carrying 82 friendship plaques at Juche Tower’s back entrance. KT/Raquel R. Bacay

Meanwhile, the Arch of Triumph, built to commemorate the Korean resistance to Japan from 1925 to 1945, also stands tall and proud and constructed as well from granite slabs, in an astonishing 10 months, according to the guide.

She claimed that the Arch of Triumph is the second tallest triumphal arch in the world, standing at 60 metres in height and 50 metres in width. As with the Juche Tower, each of the 25,500 white granite blocks of Arch of Triumph represents a day of Kim Il-sung’s life up to his death.

This arch was built on the Triumph Return Square at the foot of Moran Hill in 1982 to honour and glorify President Kim Il-sung’s role in the military resistance for Korean independence and was inaugurated on the occasion of his 70th birthday.


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