Kumsusan Palace of the Sun
|Kumsusan Palace of the Sun|
|Revised Romanization||Geumsusan Taeyang Gungjeon|
|McCune–Reischauer||Kŭmsusan T'aeyang Kungjǒn|
Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, formerly the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, and sometimes referred to as the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum, is a building near the northeast corner of the city of Pyongyang that serves as the mausoleum for Kim Il-sung, the founder and eternal president of North Korea, and for his son Kim Jong-il who succeeded him as the country's ruler.
The palace was built in 1976 as the Kumsusan Assembly Hall and served as Kim Il-sung's official residence. Following the elder Kim's death in 1994, Kim Jong-il had the building renovated and transformed into his father's mausoleum. Despite hundreds of thousands starving to death in a famine at the time, it is believed that the conversion cost at least $100 million. Some sources put the figure as high as $900 million. Inside the palace, Kim Il-sung's embalmed body lies inside a clear glass sarcophagus. His head rests on a Korean-style pillow and he is covered by the flag of the Workers' Party of Korea. Kim Jong-Il is now on display in a room close to and very similar to his father's.
Kumsusan is the largest mausoleum dedicated to a Communist leader and the only one to house the remains of multiple people. It is fronted by a large square, approximately 500 metres (1,600 ft) in length. It is bordered on its northern and eastern sides by a moat.
Access and rules
Foreign visitors can access the palace only on Thursdays and Sundays. They must be on an official government tour. Photography, videotaping, smoking, and talking are not permitted anywhere inside the palace.
The building is accessed via an underpass adjacent to a tram stop across the road. Upon entering the building, visitors (both foreigners and North Korean tourists) are asked to check all personal belongings except their wallets in a cloak room, and are given a numbered ticket to claim their belongings when leaving. Visitors proceed along a series of long travelators.
They emerge in a long hall with two white stone statues of the Kims bathed in soft red light. Marble arched columns line the hall. Visitors are told to stop at a yellow line on the floor and, after a few moments of contemplation, beckoned into another room. Here, they are given small speaker devices that play a narration of the Korean peoples' grief when Kim Il-sung died. The room features bronze-like busts of people grieving. Finally, visitors go in a lift to the top floor in the white and grey marble walled building. They are filed through a dust blowing machine and enter the room with the preserved remains of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il lying in state. A red rope barrier runs around the transparent crystal sarcophagi. Visitors are sent in groups of four and are told to bow at the Kim's feet, to his right and then left sides.
Adjoining rooms are filled with some of Kim Il-sung's possessions, as well as gifts and awards he received from around the world. There are no signs or information in Korean here. Awards include degree certificates, only one of which is from a Western university: Kensington University in California. (Kensington was an unaccredited university, typically considered to be a diploma mill, which, following several years of attempts to close it, was dissolved by a Hawaiian court in 2003.)
A peace medal from Japan lies next to his "Medal "For the Victory over Japan"" awarded to him by the USSR. The room has large paintings and photographs of Kim Il-sung meeting world leaders during their visits to North Korea and during Kim's trips abroad, such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Chairman Mao Zedong of China, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania, Erich Honecker of East Germany, Gustáv Husák of former Czechoslovakia, Wojciech Jaruzelski of Poland, Todor Zhivkov of Bulgaria, János Kádár of Hungary, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Josip Broz Tito of former Yugoslavia, Houari Boumediene of Algeria, Moktar Ould Daddah of Mauritania, and Yasser Arafat of Palestine, as well as several former Soviet leaders, including Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, Leonid Brezhnev, Konstantin Chernenko, Mikhail Gorbachev, and many other well-known people including Che Guevara and former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
Death of Kim Jong-il
Following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011, his body lay in state at the palace for 10 days. Following this period, on 28 December 2011, the palace served as the start and end point for a 40-kilometre (25 mi) funeral procession lasting three hours. The procession marked the first day of a two-day funeral ceremony.
Reportedly, Russian experts have been brought to the mausoleum to embalm Kim Jong-il's body for permanent display in the same manner of his father and other former Communist leaders such as Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Joseph Stalin (until 1961 when he was buried in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis).
On 12 January 2012, the North Korean government confirmed that Kim Jong-il's preserved remains will be put on permanent display in the palace and announced plans to erect a new Kim Jong Il statue and construct "towers to his immortality."
On 16 February 2012, the 70th diamond anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong-il, the building was formally renamed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun by a combined act of the North Korean cabinet and parliament, and the Worker's Party of Korea leadership, which was read aloud. A military parade by the Korean People's Army held that day in the palace grounds formally celebrated the occasion of its formal relaunch, preceded by a fireworks display.
After months of renovations, on December 17, 2012, Kim Jong-il's first death anniversary, the palace was officially reopened to the public in a ceremony. The preserved remains of Kim Jong-il are now shown to the public in a separate room, as well as several items related to him and documents made by him personally. The palace contains exhibits of his personal vehicles, outfits, and medals and decorations, which have now been added to the expanded collection as part of a reorganization. The wide empty foyer, formerly used in state ceremonies, was turned into a park with fountains and walkways for the enjoyment of visitors. A plaza is now at its center.
In addition to internal improvements, the palace grounds were renovated and turned into an expansive park and flower garden for the benefit of visitors. The construction and design of the park was reportedly directed by Kim Jong-un. The park grounds are open to locals and visitors alike.
On 2 April 2013, the Supreme People's Assembly on its plenary session for the year formally made a full amendment to the DPRK Constitution on the status of the palace and passed the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun Organic Law and its corresponding SPA Ordinance formally declaring the palace as a national landmark, defining its status and its mission and vision, and prepared measures to maintain it for the benefit of Koreans and foreign tourists as well as the duties of the citizens of the DPRK towards this memorial edifice.
- Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
- Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall
- Cihu Mausoleum
- Touliao Mausoleum
- Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
- Lenin's Mausoleum
- Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
- Sükhbaatar's Mausoleum
- Georgi Dimitrov Mausoleum
- National Monument in Vitkov
- Valle de los Caídos
- House of Flowers (mausoleum)
- Türkmenbaşy Ruhy Mosque
- Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum
- Mausoleum of Khomeini
- Marcos Museum and Mausoleum
- Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery
- Patriotic Martyrs' Cemetery
- Seoul National Cemetery
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- Willoughby 2008, p. 126
- Burdick 2010, p. 110
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- Becker 2005, p. 77
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- Becker, Jasper (2005), Rogue regime: Kim Jong Il and the looming threat of North Korea, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-517044-3
- Burdick, Eddie (2010), Three Days in the Hermit Kingdom: An American Visits North Korea, McFarland, ISBN 978-0-7864-4898-2
- Hassig, Ralph (2009), The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 978-0-7425-6718-4
- Kim, Samuel S (2001), The North Korean System in the Post-Cold War Era, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-23974-9
- Kongdah, Oh (2000), North Korea Through the Looking Glass, Brookings Institution Press, ISBN 978-0-8157-6435-9
- Willoughby, Robert (2008), The Bradt Travel Guide: North Korea, Bradt Travel Guides, ISBN 978-1-84162-219-4
- Media related to Kumsusan Memorial Palace at Wikimedia Commons
Kumsusan Memorial 360 Degree Panorama http://www.dprk360.com/360/kumsusan_palace_of_the_sun/