Juche Tower is a stone column tower which celebrates, as the name denotes, the Juche Ideology of North Korea. The ideology refers to the independence and self-reliance of the nation, necessitating that it must act on its own to secure its destiny and resist outside domination. The tower was opened on April 15th, 1982. It bares a striking resemblance in shape to the Washington Memorial in the United States, but is slightly taller, along with the addition of a flaming torch at the top. To each side of the tower stands apartment blocks patterned in accordance with it. The top of the buildings read out the Korean slogan “il sim dan kyeol” (with one heart unite) The tower is regularly visited on North Korea tours, where briefings will be given on the ideology as well as the opportunity to view from sites from the top.
Visiting the Tower
A visit to Juche tower begins by meeting the tower guide, who has “specialized knowledge” in the ideology. She will explain briefly to the group what it means and why the tower is built. The group will then go inside. In the entrance hall to the tower, one will see stone plaques installed from socialist and communist parties all over the world, allegedly paying tribute to the ideology and attempting to portray its international support. Whilst there are many “Juche study groups” in various countries, they are obscure and marginal at best. After passing the entrance hall, the main circular room consists of a small bar and cafe, a gift shop selling books on Juche, various couches and a lift placed in the centre. Visitors will linger for a while here to be urged to purchase things, before being offered the opportunity to head to the top.
To go up to the top of the tower the cost is 50 rmb (5 euros). The top provides a full panoramic view of all Pyongyang, with everything in range. After taking some photos and coming back down, the group will have the opportunity to walk out the front and down towards the Taedong Riverside. Here, one will see the monument in front of the tour which emphasizes the three qualities of the worker’s party standing together, the worker (hammer), the farmer (agriculture) and the intellectual (calligraphy brush). Adjacent to the tower and monument across the river one will see Kim Il-Sung Square and the Grand People’s Study House, which are perfectly aligned.
After photo opportunities pass, the tour of Juche Tower will thus come to an end. Across the road from the tour there is also a bar for diplomats and foreigners, the tour may coincide with going here.