The Mansudae Grand Hill Monument is one of the most well known sites in Pyongyang and as a result, is the best known of North Korea’s tourist attractions for foreign visitors. As the name suggests, situated on the top of Mansudae Hill at the highest point of the city, the monument consists of two enormous bronze statues of the country’s leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Originally constructed solely as a monument to Kim Il-Sung in 1972, the statue of Kim Jong-il was added in 2012 following his death to the previous December. Due to its focus upon the leaders, the site is regarded as sacred by the North Korean people, whom come to the statue to pay their respects and piety to the monument. Although it has become a signature photoshoot for tourists traveling to North Korea, respectful and dignified conduct is required when visiting the statues. As we will outline below:
What to expect
As noted, the Mansudae Grand Hill Monument is seen as sacred by North Koreans and taken very seriously. Tourists are anticipated to have a respectful and dignified attitude accordingly. Tour groups get off the bus at the bottom of the hill and walk quietly upwards to the top. At the bottom, flower shops operate where one has the voluntary opportunity to buy flowers to lay at the feet of the statues if they wish (Cost: 20 RMB/ 2 Euros). When reaching the top of the hill, the group will be expected to stand in a horizontal line facing the statues and bow to them accordingly.
After a bow is taken, an opportunity for photos is given. However, the guides are strict on the notion that tourists cannot take any photos which does not include the fullness of the statue in side of the picture. For example, an arm or head may not be cut out of the photo, as this is seen as disrespectful. Besides the statues themselves, a full scenic view of Pyongyang is visible. To the left and right of the statues stand monuments commemorating the revolutionary struggle against Japanese Imperialism, as well as the worker’s party of Korea. Further to the side of the monuments stands the monument to the legendary horse Chollima, which is used as a symbol of fast economic development in North Korea. After this, the group will leave the monument by walking back down the hill to the bus and continue the tour.