Top Ten North Korean Attractions

Top Ten North Korean Attractions

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       The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Amnok River and the Tumen River form the border between North Korea and China. A section of the Tumen River in the far northeast is the border with Russia. The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire until it was annexed by Japan following the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. It was divided into Soviet and American occupied zones in 1945, following the end of WWII. North Korea refused to participate in a United Nations–supervised election held in the south in 1948, which led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones. Both North and South Korea claimed sovereignty over the Korean Peninsula as a whole, which led to the Korean War of 1950. The Armistice Agreement of 1953 ended the fighting; however, the two countries are officially still at war against each other, as a peace treaty was never signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991. North Korea is a single-party state under a united front led by the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP). The country’s government follows the Juche ideology of self-reliance, developed by the country’s President, Kim Il-sung. After his death, Kim Il-sung was declared the country’s Eternal President. Juche became the official state ideology when the country adopted a new constitution in 1972, though Kim Il-sung had been using it to form policy since at least as early as 1955. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and a series of natural disasters, a famine occurred, causing the death of 900,000 to 2 million people. Facing these circumstances, leader Kim Jong-Il adopted Songun, or a “military-first” policy in order to strengthen the country and its government.North Koreais the world’s most militarized nation, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. It is a nuclear weapons state and has an active space program. The government is secretive and reluctant to allow in foreigners and considered by many to be the world’s most isolated country.

  1. Complex of Goguryeo Tombs
    Complex of Goguryeo TombsComplex of Goguryeo Tombs1Complex of Goguryeo Tombs2Complex of Goguryeo Tombs3
    The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs lie in North Korea. The site consists of 30 individual tombs from the later Goguryeo kingdom, one of Three Kingdoms of Korea, located in the cities of P’yŏngyang and Namp’o. Goguryeo was one of the strongest Korean kingdoms in the north east of China and the Korean Peninsula from 37 BC to the 7th century AD. The kingdom was founded in the present day area of Northern Korea, and part of Manchuria and the capital was transferred to P’yŏngyang in 427 AD. Many of the tombs, such as the Anak Tomb No. 3, have wall paintings. The tombs are almost all that remains from this culture. There are over 10,000 Goguryeo tombs overall, but only about 90 of those unearthed in China and Korea have wall paintings. It is thought that the complex was used as a burial site for kings, queens and other members of the royal family. The paintings found on the tombs offer a unique insight into the everyday life of the Goguryeo period. The murals are strongly colored and show daily life and Korean mythologies of the time. By 2005, 70 murals had been found, mostly in the Taedong river basin near Pyongyang, the Anak area in South Hwanghae province, and in Ji’an in China’s Jilin province. The following criteria were considered by UNESCO to merit the Goguryeo tombs’ inscription as a World Heritage site: “The wall paintings are masterpieces of the Goguryeo period. The tombs themselves reflect ingenious engineering capabilities. The customs of the Goguryeo culture were influential all over East Asia, including Japan. The site offers exceptional insights into the Goguryeo culture, both into everyday life and burial customs. The Goguryeo tombs are an important example of this burial typology.” In May 2006, 2,360 individual tombs were discovered at the site of the ancient Goguryeo Kingdom during work on the Yunfeng Reservoir. Ruins of an ancient city were discovered as well. Among the ruins was a city wall that was 1.5 meters tall and four meters wide. Evidence also suggested the presence of a moat. A dozen tombs were found within the city.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs, Top 100 Paintings, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_of_Goguryeo_Tombs,
  2. Juche Tower
    Juche TowerJuche Tower1Juche Tower2Juche Tower3
    The Juche Tower, officially the Tower of the Juche Idea, is a monument in Pyongyang, North Korea. The tower is named after the principle of Juche, developed by Kim Il Sung as a blend of autarky, self-reliance, nationalism, isolationism, Korean traditionalism and Marxism-Leninism. Completed in 1982, it is sited on the eastern bank of the River Taedong, directly opposite Kim Il Sung Square which is situated on the other side of the river. It was made to commemorate Kim Il Sung’s 70th birthday. Kim Jong-il is officially credited as the tower’s designer; however, interviews with former North Korean officials contradict this assertion. The 170 m (560 ft) structure is a four sided tapering 150 m (490 ft) spire (the tallest in granite) containing 25,550 blocks (365 × 70, one for each day of Kim Il Sung’s life, excluding supplementary days), dressed in white stone with seventy dividers and capped with a 20 m (66 ft) high, 45 ton, illuminated metal torch. It is possible to ascend the tower and there are wide views over Pyongyang from the viewing platform just below the torch. In the base of the tower there are reception rooms where videos explaining the tower’s ideological importance are sometimes shown. It is presumed to be modeled on the Washington Monument, which it surpasses in height by less than a meter. The Juche tower is the second tallest monumental column in the world after the San Jacinto Monument, which is 2.9 m (9.5 ft) taller. Associated with the tower is a 30 m (98 ft) high statue consisting of three figures, one with a hammer, one with a sickle and one with a writing brush (an idealized worker, a peasant and a “working intellectual,” inspired by the Russian Worker and Kolkhoz Woman statue. The combination of symbols recalls the flag of the Workers’ Party of Korea). There are six smaller groups, each 10 meters (33 ft) high, symbolizing other aspects of Kim Il Sung’s ideology. Also close to the tower is a wall of 82 friendship plaques, apparently from foreign supporters. Around the tower there are also pavilions and water features. It is claimed that the tower has become a popular site for North Koreans. Pyongyang, the capital, often experiences power shortages; however, the Juche Tower is always brightly lit to preserve symbolic strength. A number of North Korean support groups, as well as the Gabonese president and North Korea ally Omar Bongo, have supported the construction of the tower and are awarded plaques on the base of the tower.
    Links: Top Ten Towers, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juche_Tower,
  3. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Korea,

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