A Holiday in North Korea


North KoreaBy Michael Goldstein.

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.