No tool is too humble in the struggle for self reliance – from my own interpretation of Juche Idea.
Locals get by with what they have; transportation by hand cart in the small North Korean city of Hamhung – photo by Joseph A Ferris III
Juche Tower – Photo by Joseph A Ferris III
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-metre (560 ft) structure is a four sided tapering 150-metre (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-metre (66 ft) high, 45 ton, illuminated metal torch. It is possible to ascend the tower (there is a lift) 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 metres (9.5 ft) taller.
Associated with the tower is a 30-metre (98 ft) high statue consisting of three figures—one with a hammer, one with a sickle and one with a writing brush (an idealised 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 metres (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.