If you have read some of my Panmunjom entries you will be aware that, officially, the Korean War which commenced in 1950 continues to this day. However, hostilities, barring a number of minor and not so minor infractions, came to an end in 1953 with the signing of a military Armistice Agreement outside Panmunjom, a small village, in what is now the Demilitarised Zone around the border with South Korea.
In the three years of hostilities up to three million people, mainly Koreans (North and South) lost their lives. This and relentless US bombings left North Korea in ruins. A major physical and mental rebuild was required.
Kim Il-sung was keen that this redevelopment occur as quickly as possible and in 1956 first urged his people to “rush at the speed of Chollima”. This was shortly before the commencement of the 1957-61 five-year plan.
Chollima, literally ‘thousand li (400kms/per day) horse’ is a mythical winged horse originating from the Chinese classics.
A Chollima movement was established in North Korea in 1956 to promote a lightening speed State planned development in what was to be North Korea’s version of neighbouring China’s Great Leap Forward. In retrospect, despite some early successes in both, one was as big a failure as the other.
To exhort the people into action several Chollima statues were erected. This one, on Mansu Hill, Pyongyang was completed in 1961 on the occasion of the 49th birthday of Kim Il-sung and stands around 46 metres high and 16 metres long. The Chollima Statue has come to symbolise the heroism and constant fighting spirit of the Korean people and their ability to innovate and move at the speed of the Chollima – just as the Greater Leader had asked that they do back in 1956.
Mounted on the Chollima are a worker and a young peasant woman. The worker is rushing ahead on the Chollima, holding high the “Red Letter” of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and represents the working class of Korea. The peasant woman holding a large sheaf of rice in her arms symbolizes North Korea’s fast advancing peasantry.
The DPRK’s football (soccer) team is informally referred to as Chollima.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on The Rambling Wombat’s trip to Pyongyang, North Korea which I recommend you read in a particular order. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Changjon Street Apartments. If necessary, go to my Pyongyang introduction entry – Pyongyang – A Capital City Unlike any Other – to start this loop at the beginning.