Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea: the most protectionist and enclosed socialist country in the world. The country has been ruled by the Kim family for 3 generations now, and Pyongyang’s city plan is representative of the Kim family’s reign, authority, and order. The original master plan of the city was polycentric with different symbolic spaces evenly allocated throughout the city. Each district had a core area with symbolic monuments and landscapes. These centers acted as a reminder of central power and authoritarian rule in the daily lives of North Koreans. However, the reconstruction of Pyongyang in the 1960s converged many of its symbolic spaces into one central area, which still remains today. This center is used as the designated area for administrations and institutions. Socialist architecture and symbolic monuments saturate the landscape here, the most notable being the Kim Il Sung Square where ceremonial, military marches happen) and Juche Tower that represents North Korea’s ideology of self-reliance.
“It’s the kind of city that feels as if it’s designed as stage sets,” he reflected. “Your gaze is very much directed towards its monuments.” (Oliver Wainwright)
“Architecture is not a decoration, it is much more important than that. Architecture is a representation of the identity of the place. It’s the identity that is in the air.” (Oliver Wainwright)