Mansudae Grand Monument
- City Centre
Lonely Planet review for Mansudae Grand Monument
The first stop on every visitor's trip will be to this larger-than-life bronze statue of the Great Leader. You can't help but blanch at Kim Il Sung's shamelessness - this is no memorial, but rather was unveiled in 1972 to celebrate Kim's 60th birthday. It was originally covered in gold leaf, but apparently at the objection of the Chinese, who were effectively funding the North Korean economy, this was later removed in favour of the scrubbed bronze on display today.
As the epicentre of the Kim cult, visitors need to be aware of the seriousness with which North Koreans - officially at least - consider this monument and the respect they believe foreigners should accord it. Each tour group or individual should lay flowers at the statue's feet. Your tour leader will usually buy the flowers and elect one member of the group to place them at the statue's feet. As this is done, the whole group should stand in a long line and bow once the flowers have been laid.
Ordinarily guides tell stories of Kim Il Sung's greatness during the visit, but on our last trip the guides were fairly circumspect and no great ceremony was deemed necessary. This visit completed, you will have fulfilled your only obligatory act of Great Leader worship. While you will be required to suffer hours of effusive praise, you will not be expected to submit to the cult in any way - unless you are lucky enough to be invited to the Kumsusan Memorial Palace.