The Grand People’s Study House is a library and education centre in the heart of Pyongyang, North Korea. The building is built in traditional Korean style and is positioned right behind Kim Il-Sung Square, adjacent to the Taedong River. The study house is a commonly visited destination on North Korea Tours, where visitors are shown around the various libraries and study rooms. Here is an overview of what to expect when visiting:
The Grand People’s Study House consists of a number of floors, each containing various libraries, study rooms, computer rooms, music rooms and lecture theatres. The building is centrally planned with all the floors bordering in a rectangle around an enormous central hall. The central hall contains a statue of Kim Il Sung sitting down, which marks an unusual resemblance to the Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C.
There are stairs and lifts which move between the floors, with the lifts being stationed by old fashioned operators. The very top floor consists of a gift shop and balcony which looks onto Kim Il-Sung Square. Tourists will be brought here as part of their visit. Throughout the visit, tourists will see locals studying, reading and attending classes. Many of these classes teach various foreign languages such as English, German, Chinese and Russian. Some teach computer related skills. The institution possesses one wifi network, but this is not accessible by visitors. It also has a number of computers, utilizing windows but with a great deal of features disabled.
Touring the building
A tour of the Grand People’s Study House always consists of meeting a local representative who will show the group around. He or she will begin by first taking them upstairs to given library, where they will be introduced to the libraries resource of “foreign language books”. Although these are touted to show the library’s connectivity to the world, the works shown are often obscure, bizarre and subject to private ridicule by visitors. Such books have infamously included “The Complete Encyclopedia of Chickens” or something similarly random. Shakespeare has also been used.
After the books have been looked at, the guide will show the group around some lecture rooms and allow them to stand in on some local classes. The group will be taken to the music room, which possesses a number of old stereo players and dvd players. The attendant to the room will always be prepared to play some music with “cultural relevance” to the nationalities of the visitors. The music, played from old CD albums, is again aged. Selections have included Abba and the Beatles.
After the music room, the group will go up to the balcony room where a gift shop will await them. The balcony, as noted, provides an encompassing view of KIm Il-Sung Square, a swathe of Pyongyang and the Taedong River. The tour of the facility will end at this point.