Written by Zoe Stephens
Built: April 1972
Where: Mansu Hill
This complex collection of monuments includes 229 figures symbolizing the socialist revolution, as well as the struggle of the Korean people against the Japanese imperialist enemies.
The main and largest part of the monument is the two 20-meter bronze statues of leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.
It was unveiled in 1972 to celebrate Kim Il-Sung’s 60th birthday.
Originally the monument depicted only Kim Il-Sung when it was first constructed in 1972. Originally, it was covered in gold leaf. However, due to pressure from the Chinese, this was changed to a much more affordable bronze. After the death of Kim Jong-Il in 2011, a similar statue of him was erected to the side of Kim Il-Sung.
During this time, Kim Il-Sung’s original statue was altered to make his appearance older, and portray him smiling. Originally, Kim Jong-Il’s statue showed him wearing a long coat similar to that of his father’s, however, this was soon changed to portray him in his signature parka.
The Mansu Hill Grand Monument is one of the most sacred sites in the whole of the country. It is a collection of monuments (229 figures in total), with the main statues being that of the Great Leaders. Behind the Great Leaders is a mosaic mural portraying Mount Paektu – a mountain considered to be sacred within Korea.
On both sides of the statues, there are two monuments representing different Koreans during their anti-Japanese struggle. It shows farmers, soldiers, and workers. All of the statues represent real people and their individual struggle. The long line of human figures stand on average at a height of 5 meters tall.
Looking down from the tall steps you can see the collection of monuments in the fountain park, and in the distance, you can see the Party Foundation Monument, directly in line with the statues and exactly 2.16km away in distance. This symbolizes the birth date of Kim Jong-Il on 16th February.
Because of how sacred and respected the site is to North Koreans, if you wish to visit, it is expected that you bow to show your respects to the leaders. Visiting the monument itself, however, is not compulsory, should anyone not feel comfortable bowing. Flowers can also be purchased and placed at the base of the monument. It is also expected to both dress and behave respectfully. Photographs are permitted, but only if they depict the entirety of the two statues and contain nothing that could be deemed as insulting.