On the 8 July 1994 the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, passed into immortality. On his passing he became the Eternal President of the DPRK and continues to guide his people from the afterlife and forever remains alive in their hearts.
The day before Kim Il-sung died at his beloved Mt Myohyang mansion he was serving his people at Panmunjom. Above all, he had committed his life to the ordinary people of Korea and to the cause of a reunified Korea.
It was thus fitting that the last document he reviewed and signed was a reunification-related document to be considered at a forthcoming inter-Korean summit and potential meeting with South Korean President Kim Young Sam.
An enlarged copy of this signature (with the date in the format he always used) appears on this stone monument in the Joint Security Area (JSA), about 50 metres from the border with South Korea. The monument is a constant reminder to soldiers on the border of their calling – a calling to fight to the death, if necessary, for the reunification of Korea.
As is typical with monuments and the like in North Korea, this monument contains more symbolism than immediately meets the eye. The slab containing the Great Leader’s final signature is 7.8 metres wide – he had died on July the 8th. The base of the monument is 9.4 metres wide – the Great Leader had died in 1994. Eighty two carved Kimilsungia flowers adorn the base of the monument – the Great Leader was 82 years old when he died.
Unlike everywhere else in North Korea, the JSA is strangely bereft of any statues or murals depicting any of the Kim family. As such, this monument is the focal point in the JSA for worshipping and idolising the Great Leader. Fittingly it was our first stop within the JSA.
Our guide placed, on the group’s behalf, the requisite bunch of plastic flowers at the foot of the monument, we made our bows and were reminded of the greatness of Kim Il-sung. It had been a good 20 minutes since we has last heard of the wondrous exploits of the Great Leader!
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my visit to Panmunjom (DMZ), North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – The Joint Security Area & Meeting Rooms – or to start this loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – If war resumes leave the area as soon as possible!