The Three Revolutions Exhibition is a complex in Pyongyang best remembered by its architectural style that resembles a planet, making puzzling viewing. The exhibition is dedicated to exploring the achievements of North Korea’s Juche Ideology in terms of three specific sectors: Ideology, Technology and Culture. Thus, in line with monuments such as Juche Tower and the Worker’s Party Monument, as well as areas such as Mirae Scientists’ Street the museum is dedicated to spreading the narrative that the DPRK is dedicated to forging its own independent pathway and achievements as a nation. This forms a linkage to the country’s nuclear weapons activities, an enormous component of the country’s emphasis on self-reliant development.
To offer an background introduction, the Juche Ideology emphasizes the role of independence and agency in the construction of a nation. As outlined on our ideology article, the thought stresses that a nation must struggle against its circumstances and resist fate with the goal of avoiding domination by others. Upholding ideological exclusivity from the outside world, Juche requires that the nation should be completely independent of the outside and push forwards to establish its own pathway in science and technology. The agent weaponizing the ideology is to go push the forces of history and essentially battle against the odds. The philosophy has become a core component of North Korea’s diplomatic and foreign policies. As a result, on a domestic level the regime is quick glorify its achievements as examples of the regime’s own independent success and innovation: illustrating the country’s sovereignty, unity and an ability to fight on its own terms. The country’s nuclear weapons development and arsenal plays a huge part in this. The program is not only utilized for defensive purposes, but it is also an ideological keystone to national pride and prestige, apparently an indication of the ideology’s and leadership’s successes.
As a result, the three revolutions exhibition is one of the many sites dedicated to proclaiming this message. Opened in 1983, the exhibition claims that the guidance and advice of the country’s leaders have created an advanced country in the field of industry, technology, culture and farming. It depicts the achievements in these fields as being revolutionary, thus not only glorifying the ideology as it is, but depicting it in the historical sense as a pioneering force for the country’s development and advancement. After all, the legacy of Kim Il Sung and his successors are often termed: “the Korean revolution“- thus the driving forces of the country’s independence, struggle against foreign domination and of course the deliverers of new progressive political order beyond the feudalism and colonialism of the past.
Therefore, whilst visiting this museum may seem cliche in respect to sites toured by visitors to the DPRK, like all things there is nevertheless a revealing and insightful symbolic purpose to it. North Korea strives to present itself as a scientific and creative country. In doing so, such all times down to justifying and perpetuating the primary goal of the country’s independence and sovereignty. Rather than access the science and resources of an advanced country in exchange for political and economic dominion, it would rather uphold the narrative that it is capable of achieving on its own terms. Hence why bizarre exhibitions like this exist.