Kim Il-sung from the Folk Custom Hotel

No city in North Korea is complete without its bronze statue of the Great Leader, Kim Il-Sung, placed on the top of a hill for everybody to see. So naturally there is one here in Kaesong, on Mount Janam at the end of the grand boulevard that is Tongil Street. Kim Il-sung did not share the same modesty of his son who banned statues, etc of him being erected while he was alive. This statue of Kim Il-sung was erected in 1968.

For the benefit of readers who have not read my Pyongyang reviews or do not otherwise know, people come to these statues basically to worship the former (though Eternal) Leader as if he were a god. You will see them come in their finest attire and bearing flowers. Having laid the flowers at the foot of the statue they will bow – from the waist. Tourists visiting the statues (which you will do on arrival into any new town) must show their respects in the same way as locals. So, having paid our respects we were free to have a look around and take photographs.

863It is surprising, given the size of Kaesong (over 200,000) and its importance, that the Great Leader has not yet been joined on the dais by his son, the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il. I imagine there is a limit to how many of these statues, which reputedly each take around a year to make, the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang can produce. I guess Kaesong has to wait as Pyongyang gets first call and there was certainly a massive demand for statues, murals and other adulatory works of art in the run up to Kim Il-sung’s 100th birthday celebrations in 2012. On our way out of North Korea via Sinuiju in the north, I learned that the reason we could not see the Great Leader there was that the Dear Leader was in the process of being added. Perhaps Kaesong will be next.In the meantime, Kim Il-sung watches over his people, alone.


My first and last photos attached were taken from the grounds of our hotel – the Folk Custom Hotel – in the old part of town. The first one is an early morning shot while the last one is obviously taken at night when the rest of the city would have been in pretty much total darkness. Unlike in Pyongyang, where they have some lights at night, we did not get out into Kaesong after dark to check out the power situation.

3 thoughts on “Kim Il-sung Watching from on High

  1. I always enjoy coming back to your amazing North Korean posts. I’ll be leaving home shortly and will park my bicycle at the Frankfurt Opera behind the Fairy Tale Fountain made by the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang.


    1. Thank you Don. Unfortunately I have had to remove the link to your review on that entry here as the link is no more! But I look forward to re-linking again when you add more to your WordPress blog.


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