The concept of oriental despotism also helps explain the architecture of Pyongyang, which is in many ways more similar to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan, or Astana in Kazakhstan than to Stockholm or Santiago de Cuba. One finds the same long roads, flat surfaces, rows of equally spaced apartment buildings; everywhere the same arid, isolating monumentalism. Amidst this concrete desert, two particular totems stand out: the Kim Il Sung statue, situated in the centre of the city, and the Ryugyong Hotel, to the North. The statue stands twenty metres tall. Embellished in bronze, Kim Il Sung glares over the city from a raised plateau like a modern Ozymandias, an arm outstretched, beckoning the visitor to gaze upon his works with awe and fear.
Follow the brilliant career of Jonathan Bradley, noted iconoclast, libertine, and man of letters. When he's not blogging here, he blogs at The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Jonathan is the editor of American Review magazine's daily Blog Book section and a daily editor at the Singles Jukebox.
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