Kumsusan Palace of the Sun

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Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Pyongyang.jpg
The official residence of North Korea's head of state until President Kim Il-sung's death. It has since been transformed into a mausoleum for the deceased ruler and his son, Kim Jong-il.
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl금수산태양궁전
Hancha殿
Revised RomanizationGeumsusan Taeyang Gungjeon
McCune–ReischauerKŭmsusan T'aeyang Kungjǒn
 
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Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Pyongyang.jpg
The official residence of North Korea's head of state until President Kim Il-sung's death. It has since been transformed into a mausoleum for the deceased ruler and his son, Kim Jong-il.
Korean name
Chosŏn'gŭl금수산태양궁전
Hancha殿
Revised RomanizationGeumsusan Taeyang Gungjeon
McCune–ReischauerKŭmsusan T'aeyang Kungjǒn

Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, formerly the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, and sometimes referred to as the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum, is a building located near the northeast corner of the city of Pyongyang and serves as the mausoleum for Kim Il-sung, the founder and eternal president of North Korea, and for his son Kim Jong-il who succeeded him as the country's ruler.[1]

The palace was built in 1976 as the Kumsusan Assembly Hall, and served as Kim Il-sung's official residence. Following the elder Kim's death in 1994, Kim Jong-il had the building renovated and transformed into his father's mausoleum.[2] Despite hundreds of thousands starving to death in a famine at the time, it is believed that the conversion cost at least $100 million.[3] Some sources put the figure as high as $900 million.[4][5] Inside the palace, Kim Il-sung's embalmed body lies inside a clear glass sarcophagus. His head rests on a Korean-style pillow and he is covered by the flag of the Workers' Party of Korea. Kim Jong-Il is now on display in a room close to and very similar to his father's.[6]

Kumsusan is the largest mausoleum dedicated to a Communist leader,[7] and the only one to house the remains of multiple people. It is fronted by a large square, approximately 500 metres (1,600 ft) in length.[8] It is bordered on its northern and eastern sides by a moat.

Access and rules[edit]

A statue of Kim Il-sung inside the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

Foreign visitors can access the palace only on Thursdays and Sundays. They must be on an official government tour. Photography, videotaping, smoking, and talking are not permitted anywhere inside the palace.

Access to the building is via a subway (underpass) from a tram stop across the road. Upon entering the building, visitors (both foreigners and North Korean tourists) then have to leave everything except their wallets behind in a cloak room with a numbered ticket to claim them upon leaving.[9] Visitors proceed along a series of long travelators.[10] Finally, they emerge in a long hall with a white stone statue of Kim bathed in soft red light around him. Marble arched columns line the hall. Visitors are told to stop at a yellow line on the floor, and after a few moments of contemplation, beckoned into another room. Here, they are given a small speaker device, that plays a narration of the Korean peoples' grief when Kim Il-sung died. The room features bronze like busts of people grieving. Finally, visitors go up in a lift to the top floor in the white and grey marble walled building. They are filed through a dust blowing machine, and enter the room with Kim Il-sung's preserved remains lying in state. A red rope barrier runs around the transparent crystal sarcophagus. Visitors are sent in groups of four and are told to bow at the Kim's feet, to his right, and then left sides.

Mementos[edit]

The flag of the Workers' Party of Korea covers Kim Il-sung

Adjoining rooms are filled with some of Kim Il-sung's possessions, as well as gifts and awards he received from around the world.[11] There are no signs or information in Korean here. Awards include a number of degree certificates, only one of which is from a Western university, specifically Kensington University in California.[12] Kensington was an unaccredited university, typically considered to be a diploma mill, which, following several years of attempts to close it, was finally dissolved by a Hawaiian court in 2003.[13][14][15]

A peace medal from Japan lies next to his "Medal "For the Victory over Japan"" awarded to him by the USSR. The room has large paintings and photographs of Kim Il-sung meeting various world leaders during their visits to North Korea and during Kim's trips abroad, such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Chairman Mao Zedong of China, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania, Erich Honecker of East Germany, Gustáv Husák of former Czechoslovakia, Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland, Todor Zhivkov of Bulgaria, János Kádár of Hungary, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Josip Broz Tito of former Yugoslavia, Houari Boumediene of Algeria, Moktar Ould Daddah of Mauritania, and Yasser Arafat of Palestine, as well as several former Soviet leaders, including Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev, and many other well-known people including Che Guevara, and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.[citation needed]

Death of Kim Jong-il[edit]

Following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011, his body lay in state at the palace for 10 days.[16] Following this period, on 28 December 2011, the palace served as the start and end point for a 40-kilometre (25 mi) funeral procession lasting three hours. The procession marked the first day of a two-day funeral ceremony.[17][18]

Reportedly, Russian experts have been brought to the mausoleum to embalm Kim Jong-il's body for permanent display in the same manner of his father and other former Communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh,[19] and Joseph Stalin (until 1961 when he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis).

On 12 January 2012, the North Korean government confirmed that Kim Jong-il's preserved remains will be put on permanent display in the palace and also announced plans to erect a new Kim Jong Il statue and construct "towers to his immortality."[1][20]

On 16 February 2012, the 70th diamond anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong-il, the building was formally renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun by a combined act of the North Korean cabinet and parliament, and the Worker's Party of Korea leadership, which was read aloud that day.[21] A military parade by the Korean People's Army held that day in the palace grounds formally celebrated the occasion of its formal relaunch, preceded by a fireworks display.

After months of renovations, on December 17, 2012, Kim Jong-il's first death anniversary, the Palace was officially reopened to the public in a ceremony. The preserved remains of Kim Jong-il are now shown to the public in a separate room, as well as several items related to him and documents made by him personally. The Palace contains exhibits of his personal vehicles, outfits, and his various medals and decorations, which have now been added to the expanded collection as part of a reorganization. The wide empty foyer, formerly used in state ceremonies, was turned into a park with fountains and walkways for the enjoyment of visitors to the Palace. A plaza is now also located right at its center.

In addition to internal improvements, the Palace grounds were renovated and turned into an expansive park and flower garden for the benefit of those visiting it. The construction and design of the park was directed by Kim Jong-un himself.[22][23]The park grounds are open to both locals and visitors alike.

On 2 April 2013, the Supreme People's Assembly on its plenary session for the year formally made a full amendment to the DPRK Constitution on the status of the palace and passed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun Organic Law and its corresponding SPA Ordinance formally declaring the palace as a national landmark, defining its status and its mission and vision, and prepared measures to maintain it for the benefit of both Koreans and foreign tourists alike as well as the duties of the citizens of the DPRK towards this memorial edifice.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Kim Jong Il to be enshrined as "eternal leader"". CBS News. January 12, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2011. 
  2. ^ Burdick 2010, p. 100
  3. ^ Hassig 2009, p. 53
  4. ^ Kim 2001, p. 20
  5. ^ Kongdan 2000, p. 97
  6. ^ "First Western Tourists Inside Kim Mausoleum Describe “Surreal” Experience". NK News. Retrieved 27 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Mark Johanson (January 23, 2013). "Kim Jong-il’s Mausoleum, As Described By Its First Western Visitors". International Business Times. Retrieved February 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ Willoughby 2008, p. 126
  9. ^ Burdick 2010, p. 110
  10. ^ Burdick 2010, p. 109
  11. ^ Becker 2005, p. 77
  12. ^ Burdick 2010, p. 116
  13. ^ Kensington University, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Hawaii, 29 October 2003, retrieved 20 December 2011 
  14. ^ Chandler, John (23 April 1996), "Kensington University Faces Closure Hearing", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 20 December 2011 
  15. ^ Chandler, John (27 June 1996), "University Sidesteps Close Order", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 20 December 2011 
  16. ^ North Korea leader lies in state, BBC News, 20 December 2011, retrieved 20 December 2011 
  17. ^ Kim Jong-il state funeral held in North Korea, BBC News, 28 December 2011, retrieved 28 December 2011 
  18. ^ McCurry, Justin (28 December 2011), Kim Jong-il funeral: thousands mourn North Korean leader, The Guardian, retrieved 28 December 2011 
  19. ^ Salmon, Andrew (December 28, 2011). "Kim Jong-il: a lavish North Korean funeral beneath a leaden sky". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved December 29, 2011. 
  20. ^ "Kim Jong-il to be put on display". ABC Sydney. January 13, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2012. 
  21. ^ "North Korea marks late leader Kim Jong-il's birthday". BBC News. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Kim Myong Hun. "Plaza Park of Kumsusan Palace of Sun Laid Out Well". Rodong Sinmun. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 
  23. ^ Curtis Melvin (2012). "Kumsusan Palace renovations". North Korean Economy Watch. Retrieved May 24, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Becker, Jasper (2005), Rogue regime: Kim Jong Il and the looming threat of North Korea, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517044-3 
  • Burdick, Eddie (2010), Three Days in the Hermit Kingdom: An American Visits North Korea, McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-4898-2 
  • Hassig, Ralph (2009), The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-7425-6718-4 
  • Kim, Samuel S (2001), The North Korean System in the Post-Cold War Era, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-23974-9 
  • Kongdah, Oh (2000), North Korea Through the Looking Glass, Brookings Institution Press, ISBN 978-0-8157-6435-9 
  • Willoughby, Robert (2008), The Bradt Travel Guide: North Korea, Bradt Travel Guides, ISBN 978-1-84162-219-4 

Coordinates: 39°3′51″N 125°47′15″E / 39.06417°N 125.78750°E / 39.06417; 125.78750