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Juche Tower

Juche Tower

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The Juche Tower is a monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

 in Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

. The tower is named after the principle of Juche
Juche or Chuch'e is a Korean word usually translated as "self-reliance." In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , "Juche" refers specifically to a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, the Juche Idea, that identifies the Korean masses as the masters of the country's development...

, developed by Kim Il Sung as a blend of autarky
Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the term is applied to political states or their economic policies. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance. Autarky is not necessarily economic. For example, a military autarky...

, self-reliance, nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

, isolationism
Isolationism is the policy or doctrine of isolating one's country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one's country to its own advancement and remain at peace by...

, Korean traditionalism, and Marxism-Leninism
Marxism–Leninism is a communist ideology, officially based upon the theories of Marxism and Vladimir Lenin, that promotes the development and creation of a international communist society through the leadership of a vanguard party over a revolutionary socialist state that represents a dictatorship...


Completed in 1982, it is sited on the eastern bank of the River Taedong, directly opposite Kim Il Sung Square which is situated on the other side of the river. It was made to commemorate Kim Il Sung's 70th birthday. Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

 is officially credited as the tower's designer; however, interviews with former North Korean officials contradict this assertion.

The 170 metres (557.7 ft) structure is a four sided tapering 150 metres (492.1 ft) spire (the tallest in granite
Granite is a common and widely occurring type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock. Granite usually has a medium- to coarse-grained texture. Occasionally some individual crystals are larger than the groundmass, in which case the texture is known as porphyritic. A granitic rock with a porphyritic...

) containing 25,550 blocks (365 × 70, one for each day of Kim Il Sung's life, excluding supplementary days), dressed in white stone with seventy dividers and capped with a 20 metres (65.6 ft) high, 45 ton, illuminated metal torch. It is possible to ascend the tower (there is a lift) and there are wide views over Pyongyang from the viewing platform just below the torch. In the base of the tower there are reception rooms where videos explaining the tower's ideological importance are sometimes shown. It is presumed to be modeled on the Washington Monument
Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington...

, which it surpasses in height by less than a meter. The Juche tower is the second tallest monumental column in the world after the San Jacinto Monument
San Jacinto Monument
The San Jacinto Monument is a high column located on the Houston Ship Channel in unincorporated Harris County, Texas near the city of La Porte. The monument is topped with a 220-ton star that commemorates the site of the Battle of San Jacinto, the decisive battle of the Texas Revolution...

, which is 2.9 metres (9.5 ft) taller.

Associated with the tower is a 30 metres (98.4 ft) high statue consisting of three figures—one with a hammer
A hammer is a tool meant to deliver an impact to an object. The most common uses are for driving nails, fitting parts, forging metal and breaking up objects. Hammers are often designed for a specific purpose, and vary widely in their shape and structure. The usual features are a handle and a head,...

, one with a sickle
A sickle is a hand-held agricultural tool with a variously curved blade typically used for harvesting grain crops or cutting succulent forage chiefly for feeding livestock . Sickles have also been used as weapons, either in their original form or in various derivations.The diversity of sickles that...

 and one with a writing brush (an idealised worker, a peasant and a "working intellectual
An intellectual is a person who uses intelligence and critical or analytical reasoning in either a professional or a personal capacity.- Terminology and endeavours :"Intellectual" can denote four types of persons:...

", inspired by the Russian Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman
Worker and Kolkhoz Woman is a 24.5 meter high sculpture made from stainless steel by Vera Mukhina for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, and subsequently moved to Moscow. The sculpture is an example of the socialist realistic style, as well as Art Deco style...

statue. The combination of symbols recalls the flag of the Workers' Party of Korea
Workers' Party of Korea
The Workers' Party of Korea is the ruling Communist party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea. It is also called the Korean Workers' Party...

). There are six smaller groups, each 10 metres (32.8 ft) high, symbolizing other aspects of Kim Il Sung's ideology
An ideology is a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things , as in common sense and several philosophical tendencies , or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to...

. Also close to the tower is a wall of 82 friendship plaques, apparently from foreign supporters. Around the tower there are also pavilions and water features. It is claimed that the tower has become a popular site for North Koreans.

Pyongyang, the capital, often experiences power shortages; however, the Juche Tower is always brightly lit to preserve symbolic strength.

A number of North Korean support groups—and the Gabonese president and North Korea ally Omar Bongo
Omar Bongo
El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba , born as Albert-Bernard Bongo, was a Gabonese politician who was President of Gabon for 42 years from 1967 until his death in office in 2009....

—have supported the construction of the tower and are awarded plaques on the base of the tower.

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