[KS] Pyongyang city features and plans

Ruediger Frank ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at
Tue Sep 18 02:52:17 EDT 2012

The Fine Arts Gallery is open, by the way. Was there last week.
Rudiger Frank

on Samstag, 15. September 2012 at 23:50 you wrote:

> Just a note about the two-volume architecture guide of P'yŏngyang that
> Professor Clark introduced--it is available in German and English (same
> publisher):

> I accidentally stumbled over that a few months ago, and it was a 
> refreshing read. To me this is one of the few examples where--not too 
> sure how to best phrase that ... where the lack of a background in 
> "Korean Studies" per se was all for the benefit of the work. The many 
> references made about North Korean architecture in the various works on
> North Korea, anything really from histories and general guides to 
> political studies, are often nonchanlantly dismissing all post-North 
> Korean War architecture as Stalinist, totalitarian, or otherwise 
> nothing but a pure reflection of North Korea's one man regime. The 
> one-to-one equation of political system and built or planned 
> architecture, however, is nothing but an outdated myth that had been a
> helpful tool for manipulation during the Cold War era in dealing with 
> the fascist past in Europe and the then present Communist states. It's
> truly time to move on: architects could never do much with such 
> constructs in the first place, and it were very rarely architects 
> themselves making such statements or believing in them. The mentioned 
> book (or better, the volume with essays) does certainly not provide any
> sort of theoretical discussion in dealing with this dilemma--the 
> dilimma of a widely accepted but diluted basic concept that stops us 
> from better understanding and describing the country's architecture, 
> where on the world map to put North Korea's and other socialist state's
> architectural production. But the book simply is valuable because 
> it--as an intended or unintended "countermeasure"--ignores most of the
> general wisdoms on totalitarian architecture, strange North Korean 
> politics, etc., and just deals with architecture in the framework of 
> international movements (as architects usually do). In that very sense
> I am happy such a work, however short, is now out there.

> Best regards,
> Frank 

> On Sat, 15 Sep 2012 14:53:52 -0500, Donald Clark wrote:
>> Regarding Pyongyang architecture (and I hope I didn't miss earlier
>> posts where this might have been discussed already), I recently
>> stumbled on a two-volume set entitled "Architectural and Cultural
>> Guide: Pyongyang" edited by Philipp Meuser and published by DOM
>> Publishers, available for less than 40 bucks from Amazon.  The first
>> volume is basically a translated and updated version of a good North
>> Korean city guide. The second volume is a marvelous collection of
>> essays and interpretations placing Pyongyang in the context of world
>> architectural history, presenting it as the fulfillment of visions by
>> the great planners of the twentieth century. Both volumes are
>> wonderfully illustrated with color photographs.
>>      Like others I am grateful to Chris Springer for his works on the
>> reconstructed city.  This collection illuminates some of the same
>> things, going farther in discussions about interesting (and sometimes
>> appalling) features of the city: the great boulevards and districts
>> with their Potemkin apartments, the state monuments and gargantua, the
>> historic sites, athletic facilities, public spaces, palaces, and not
>> least the Ryugyong Hotel from concept to partial completion. Mention
>> is made of the MAK museum exhibit in Vienna and controversies
>> surrounding it, among many other familiar topics. The essays in Vol 2
>> are especially rich reading for anyone who has had a quick visit or
>> two to Pyongyang and didn't get to see absolutely everything or the
>> grand designs that are expressed in the architecture.
>> Don

>> -- 
>> Donald N. Clark, Ph.D.
>> Murchison Professor of History and
>>     Co-director of East Asian Studies at Trinity (EAST)
>> Trinity University, One Trinity Place,  San Antonio, TX 78212 USA
>> +1 (210) 999-7629;  Fax +1 (210) 999-8334
>> http://www.trinity.edu/departments/history/html/faculty/donald_clark.htm

> --------------------------------------
> Frank Hoffmann
> http://koreaweb.ws
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