Arch of Reunification

Coordinates: 38°57′52.300″N 125°42′56.940″E / 38.96452778°N 125.71581667°E / 38.96452778; 125.71581667
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Arch of Reunification
Arch of Reunification in 2015
Map
38°57′52.300″N 125°42′56.940″E / 38.96452778°N 125.71581667°E / 38.96452778; 125.71581667
LocationPyongyang, North Korea
Width61.5 metres (202 ft)
Height30 metres (98 ft)
Opening dateAugust 2001 (2001-08)
Dedicated to
Dismantled dateJanuary 2024
Arch of Reunification
Chosŏn'gŭl
조국통일3대헌장기념탑
Hancha
Revised RomanizationJoguk Tongil Samdae Heonjang Ginyeomtap
McCune–ReischauerChoguk T'ongil Samtae Hŏnjang Kinyŏmt'ap

The Arch of Reunification, officially the Monument to the Three-Point Charter for National Reunification,[1] was a sculptural arch located south of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It was opened in August 2001 to commemorate Korean reunification proposals put forward by Kim Il Sung.[2][3] Made of concrete, the arch straddled the multi-laned Reunification Highway leading from Pyongyang to the Korean Demilitarized Zone. The arch appeared on postage stamps issued in 2002, 2015, 2016, 2021, and was demolished in January 2024.[4]

History[edit]

North Korea broke ground for the monument on 14 August 1999. It initially aimed to finish the arch by 15 August 2000, marking the 55th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan.[5] The original plan was to have a 55-metre pillar with three branches to represent Koreans in the north, the south, and overseas.[1] In July 2000, the Korean-American website Minjok Tongshin reported North Korea would change the location and design of the monument, supposedly because it received more support and commemorative bricks from South Korea than expected. According to NK News, North Korea's decision reportedly came shortly after the 2000 inter-Korean summit. On November 2000, the website published the first image of the arch's final design. The monument was completed by August 2001; Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), described it as a "grand monument to the 10,000-year grand plan of the era of the Workers’ Party of Korea."[5]

Demolition[edit]

In December 2023, during his remarks at a Plenum of the WPK's Central Committee, Kim Jong Un accused South Korea of becoming a "forward military base and nuclear arsenal" of the United States amid increased U.S. drills and deployment of some military assets near the Korean peninsula.[6] At that time Kim announced that he had ruled out the possibility of reunification with South Korea through peaceful means and that North Korea must fundamentally change its relations with South Korea.[6] North Korea ultimately vowed to launch three new spy satellites, build military drones and boost its nuclear arsenal by 2024.[6]

In January 2024, Kim called for the destruction of the Arch of Reunification, in a further step towards abandoning the goal of peaceful reunification.[7] In a speech at the Supreme People's Assembly on 15 January of that year, Kim called the monument an "eyesore" and, according to official media, ordered the constitution be amended to say the South was a "primary foe and invariable principal enemy".[8]

The arch was demolished some time between 19 and 23 January 2024, according to satellite imagery.[9][8] The news that the Arch of Reunification had been demolished was confirmed by the Ministry of Unification of South Korea on 24 January 2024.[10]

Design[edit]

The arch consisted of two Korean women in traditional dress (chosŏn-ot), symbolizing the North and the South,[2] leaning forward to jointly uphold a sphere bearing a map of a reunified Korea. The sphere is the emblem of the Three Charters: the Three Principles of National Reunification, the Plan of Establishing the Democratic Federal Republic of Korea, and the Ten Point Programme for Reunification of the Country. The arch's lower part featured bronze bas-reliefs on both sides showing independence movement scenes. The plinth of the structure was engraved with messages of support for reunification and peace from various individuals, organizations, and nations. The arch was completed at the height of the so-called Sunshine Policy, a South Korean government effort to reduce the risk of conflict between the two states and reconcile with the North. The width of Arch of Reunification, 61.5 metres, was a reference to the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration of 2000, and its height at 30 meters, a reference to the Three Principles of National Reunification.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Justin Corfield (July 2013). Historical Dictionary of Pyongyang. Anthem Press. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-85728-234-7.
  2. ^ a b Harris, Mark Edward (2007). Inside North Korea. Chronicle Books. p. 37. ISBN 978-0-8118-5751-2.
  3. ^ "Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification". KCNA Watch. 29 November 2015. Archived from the original on 23 January 2024. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  4. ^ Hall, David (6 February 2024). "North Korea has demolished its monument to reunification but it can't fully erase the dream". The Conversation. Archived from the original on 6 February 2024. Retrieved 6 February 2024.
  5. ^ a b Fretwell, James (30 January 2024). "Arch nemesis: Kim Jong Un dismantled a monument — and his grandfather's legacy". NK News. Archived from the original on 30 January 2024. Retrieved 30 January 2024.
  6. ^ a b c "North Korea to launch new spy satellites, build drones, says war inevitable". Reuters. 31 December 2023. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  7. ^ Yim, Hyunsu (16 January 2024). "North Korea's Kim calls for South to be seen as "primary foe", warns of war". Reuters. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  8. ^ a b "North Korea tears down monument symbolizing union with the South - report". Reuters. 23 January 2024. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  9. ^ "North Korea demolishes symbolic unification arch, satellite imagery suggests". NK News. Archived from the original on 23 January 2024. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  10. ^ "통일부 "북한, 평양서 '조국통일 기념탑' 철거"" [Ministry of Unification: "North Korea demolishes 'National Unification Monument' in Pyongyang"]. Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (in Korean). 24 January 2024. Archived from the original on 25 January 2024. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  11. ^ "북 통일정책의 집대성 '조국통일 3대헌장'". 통일뉴스 (in Korean). 4 August 2017. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2024.

External links[edit]