Every itinerary includes an homage to these vast bronze statues of the smiling Great Leader and Dear Leader, the latter in his trademark parka. The first statue was unveiled in 1972 to celebrate Kim Il-sung's 60th birthday, while the second one was added in 2012. The original statue was initially covered in gold leaf, but this was removed at the objection of the Chinese, who were effectively funding the North Korean economy, and today's scrubbed bronze prevailed.
As the epicentre of the Kim cult, visitors need to be aware of the seriousness (officially, at least) with which North Koreans regard this monument and the respect they believe visitors should accord it. Your tour leader will buy flowers and elect one member of the group to place them at the statue’s feet. As this is done, the whole group will be expected to bow. Photographers will be instructed never to photograph one part of the monument – all pictures should be of the entire statue to avoid causing offence.