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Pyongyang Grand Theatre

Having read my review of the Korean Feature Film Studio, read of Kim Jong-il’s contribution to the cinema industry and the arts in general and seen various references to revolutionary army choirs, revolutionary operas and much, much, more in various of my reviews you will, by now, be very excited to know where you can partake of these things should you visit Pyongyang though, perhaps because three hours plus of revolutionary opera or lengthy non-subtitled movies might get a bit boring, they do not often appear on the itinerary of most visitors – as they didn’t on mine.

While I enjoyed the children’s show at the Mansudae Children’s Palace it only lasted an hour – any more and well hmmmm…. That said, I think it would be quite an experience see the army choir, the orchestra, etc but possibly not for three hours.

If all that sounds a bit too much, very rarely, international acts do make it to Pyongyang. My Reader may recall the 2008 visit of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Alas a much publicised 2016 production of Hamlet by London’s Globe Theatre did not eventuate ‘for security reasons’.

One of the nice things about socialist (and here Juche) inclined governments is their strong support for the arts and making them readily and cheaply accessible to the people. As such, Pyongyang has a plethora of theatres and cinemas and a couple of residents circus’ ( and no, the Supreme People’s Assembly is not one of the latter!)

The pictures above feature a few of the theatres and a cinema though the theatres also double up as cinemas. I have also prepared a separate review on the beautiful neo-classical Moranbong Theatre due to its historical significance.

Of the remaining theatres, the Pyongyang Grand Theatre (pictured above), due to its incorporation of traditional Korean architecture, is the most stunning looking. It was opened in 1960 and renovated in 2009. Also, of particular interest here are the murals which depict North Korea’s most critically acclaimed movies, operas and a play.

The two murals on either side of the theatre’s facade depict two movies personally directed by Kim Jong-il. On the left in my first picture above is a depiction of Sea of Blood and on the right, Flower Girl. The original Sea of Blood, an opera, was, we were told, written by Kim Il-sung – opera writing being just one of his multifarious talents.

The murals on a large display to the right of the theatre (pictured below) rather beautifully depict from left to right:

• Speak, Forest! (Revolutionary Opera)

• The Faithful Daughter of the Party (Revolutionary Opera)

• Song of Mount Kumgang (Revolutionary Opera)

• Seonghwangdang (name of a temple) (Revolutionary Opera)

• With Anger Bloody Ten-Thousand Countries (Revolutionary Drama)

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Showing at the Pyongyang Grand Theatre

And I missed out on seeing even one of them!

You got to admire the artwork, all of which would, I am sure, have been done at the Mansudae Arts Studio.

Not having seen any of these works I cannot personally recommend them but the Pyongyang Grand Theatre is certainly worth a look in itself.


This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to Pyongyang.  I suggest you continue with my next entry – Shopping in Pyongyang – or to start the loop at the beginning go to –  Pyongyang – A Capital City Unlike any Other


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