[KS] Smiling Kim Il Sung statue in the Mansudae Grand Monument

Haufler, Marsha Smith mhaufler at ku.edu
Fri Dec 28 09:06:24 EST 2012

Rudiger apparently seeks a more concrete interpretation of the "glasses, smile, and Western suit" iconography of the statue than the one I offered back in September, and indeed, I provided no supporting data that might convince a social scientist. Nevertheless, visual evidence suggests that the statue was updated to match the official posthumous portrait painting made in 1994 , a.k.a. the Sun Portrait, which shows a smiling Kim Il Sung with glasses dressed in a Western business suit and tie. And in all cases, whether sculpture, oil painting, or mosaic mural, the spectacles, smile, and Western suit carry the same connotations—the Eternal President was cosmopolitan, modern and capable of leading a modern nation (suit and tie), wise and learned—even scholarly (glasses), warm and caring (benevolent smile); in sum, he is the loving grandfather who wisely set his people on the path of modernization and is always beaming his protective love over them.  The smile is a big deal, frequently referenced in KCNA stories about mosaic portraits of the leaders, as in "the brightly smiling Kim Il Sung," "the peerlessly great man and the father of socialist Korea with a sunny smile," etc.

From: Ruediger Frank <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at<mailto:ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at>>
Organization: University of Vienna
Reply-To: Ruediger Frank <ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at<mailto:ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at>>, Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws<mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
Date: Thursday, December 27, 2012 12:01 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws<mailto:koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>>
Subject: Re: [KS] Gold leaf on the Kim Il Sung statue in the Mansudae Grand Monument?

Perhaps one of the colleagues on this list has a clue on a more recent aspect of statuology: As you know, in April 2012 a statue of Kim Jong Il was added to the top of Mansudae Hill. Not only was the one of Kim Il Sung, standing there since 1972, moved a few steps to the left; Kim Il Sung is now also wearing glasses, a smile, and a Western suit. Any reliable information on why that has been changed? No doubt the main statue of the leader in the country is of the highest symbolic value, so not even the smallest change would happen without a purpose. So what is it that the changed appearance of the Kim Il Sung statue wants to tell the North Korean people?
All the best,
Rudiger Frank

on Mittwoch, 26. Dezember 2012 at 09:08 you wrote:

> There's a photo of the gilded Kim Il Sung statue in the North
> Korean pictorial magazine "Democratic People's Republic of Korea,"
> 12/1977. It looks quite different from the bronze version. As
> Ruediger Frank suggests, too much light reflects off the surface,
> and the statue's contrasts are lost.

> As Jim Hoare notes, the statue was erected in 1972. The gilding
> was applied in 1977, according to Helen-Louise Hunter's book
> "Kim Il Song's North Korea."

> The Chinese delegation in question visited September 8-13, 1978,
> and the gold was allegedly removed soon after, perhaps even that
> same month. (Did Chinese objections lead to the degilding? This
> has been reported but not solidly established.)

> While gilding a statue seems extravagant, gold plating is typically
> so thin that the cost of the gold itself is not necessarily prohibitive.

> Chris Springer
> "Pyongyang: The Hidden History of the North Korean Capital"
> www.hiddenhistory.info<http://www.hiddenhistory.info>

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