[KS] Answers about Pyongyang

BJ joinau at chollian.net
Mon Sep 24 09:49:09 EDT 2012

Dear Don,
There might be a misunderstanding, indeed, because it is quite
complicated !
If I understood it correctly, and if information found and provided are
right, there are two different museums here:
-         Korean (Central) History Museum: located originally on Moran
Hill, close to Ulmil Pavilion, under the name of State Museum of
History, it was moved in 1977 to its present location on KIS Square
(visited and mentioned below by Don).
-         The National Central Museum of the Liberation Struggle was set
up on August 1, 1948. It was renamed the Korean Revolution Museum in
January 1961 and placed on Kim Il Sung Square (according to information
provided by Chris Springer. It is not sure where it was located before
that). It was moved to its present location on Mansudae behind KIS
statue in 1972.
The Korean History Museum was said to be closed for renovation the two
times I visited (2008 and 2010). But as noted, of course, it doesn’t
mean it was really closed.  A contrario, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t: I
was told Korean Art Gallery was closed for renovation at the same time,
and apparently it was, since it reopened in 2010. A lot of cultural
sites have undergone full renovation in the 2000’s and I was interested
in listing them: Moranbong Theatre, Taedongmun Cinema, Pyongyang Grand
Theatre, etc. It is quite interesting to follow the priorities set by
the regime for Pyongyang development and refurbishment.
Benjamin JOINAU
Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong 119-28
140-200 Seoul, South Korea
Tel/fax : (822) 795-2465
Cell phone : (82) 10-8905-0696
E-mail : joinau at chollian.net
-----Original Message-----
From: koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws
[mailto:koreanstudies-bounces at koreaweb.ws] On Behalf Of don kirk
Sent: Monday, September 24, 2012 3:29 PM
To: Korean Studies Discussion List
Subject: Re: [KS] Answers about Pyongyang

There may be some misunderstanding here. The Korean History Museum is
now on Kim Il Sung Square, filling almost one entire side. I've been
told on at least two visits that's what it is and was taken on a
walk-through in July. It does not cover the Korean War and is not much
about revolutionary struggle. Exhibits begin with archeological remains,
birth of Tangun (of course!) and move through the millennia. At least
that's what I saw when I visited for an hour or so, with minder, in
July. I would have liked to have stayed longer, but that's how guided
tours are. (Speaking of western-style resfaurants, a coffee shop on the
corner almost next to the museum, nearest the river, offers Austrian --
or anyway European -- coffee and cake at Seoul-coffee-shop prices.)
Don Kirk

--- On Sun, 9/23/12, BJ <joinau at chollian.net> wrote:

From: BJ <joinau at chollian.net>
Subject: [KS] Answers about Pyongyang
To: "'Korean Studies Discussion List'" <koreanstudies at koreaweb.ws>
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2012, 12:22 PM
Dear List members,
I’d like once again to thank you all for your many answers to my
questions about Pyongyang.
Since they came in many posts, sometimes in private messages and could
be of interest for some members, I have listed them below.
Please note that these informations are mostly indicative and are often
hypothetical. Just pieces of a puzzle

Questions about Pyongyang
1.       Korean Central History Museum : it used to be on Moran Hill
before 1977 (it is said to have opened there in 1945). Where was it
located ? ==> Called “State Museum of History”, it was located on Moral
Hill close to Ulmil Pavillion up to 1977.
2.       It was closed for renovation until recently. Has it reopened?
==> Yes – date of reopening unknown (was it really closed for
renovation? That’s what I had been told in 2009).
3.       Korean Revolution Museum : before being behind the Grand
Monument of Mansudae (1972), where was it located? It was supposed to be
founded in 1948 under the name of Central State Museum of the Liberation
Fight (I translate from French). ==>  The National Central Museum of the
Liberation Struggle was set up on August 1, 1948. It was renamed the
Korean Revolution Museum in January 1961 and placed on Kim Il Sung
Square. (It is not sure where it was located before that).
4.       The Korea Art Gallery had been closed for “renovations” for
years. When has it reopened? (If it has). Was it opened first in 1954 or
1960? ==> It reopened after renovations in 2010.
5.       Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum : it is said to
have opened initially in August 1953, but before being rebuilt in its
actual location in 1974, where was it located? ==> It was located on
Haebangsan, in what is now the Party area.
6.       Chris Springer says that the Three-Revolutions Exhibition
opened in 1993 (I have 1992 in another source
), on the site of a former
“exhibition”. Does anybody know what kind of exhibition it was ? ==> The
former exhibition was the "Exhibition of Achievements of Socialist
7.       Was the USS Pueblo moved from Wonsan to Pyongyang in 1999? (I
found different dates). ==> Moved from Wonsan in 1999, moved back
temporarily in 2002, and then back again to Pyongyang.
8.       Does anybody know where are located the fast food restaurant,
the new Italian restaurant and the micro-brewery? ==> There are two
"fast food" restaurants -- though there are five known establishments in
Pyongyang in which you can get a hamburger (if you count Air Koryo).
There are also two Italian restaurants. There at least 5 different beer
9.       Does anybody know the date of construction of Mansudae Art
Studio? And why it was named this way despite the fact that it is not in
Mansudae area? ==> Created in 1959; location  unknown. “Their signature
project is the Mansudae Grand Monument, the huge statue of Kim Il Sung”
(C. Springer) : the reason for the name? (although the Grand Monument
was opened in 1972
10.   When was the Kim Il Sung Stadium first built (before the
extensions and renovations of the 1970’s and 1980’s, when it was still
called the Moranbong Stadium)? ==> rebuilt in 1954, on a previous sports
11.   From when the site of Anhak palace in Taesong area has been
“discovered” and opened to the public? ==> excavations took place under
KIS. Apparently not opened to the public.
12.   When did the so-called mausoleum or tomb of Tangun open to the
public: 1993 or 1994? ==> 11th October 1994.
New reference:
Roger Mateos Miret with Jelena Prokopljevic: Corea del Norte, Utopía de
hormigón. Arquitectura y urbanismo al servicio de una ideología. Brenes,
Spain 2012 (Munoz Moya Editores). (thanks to Prof. Dege).
For information, since I didn’t explain at first the reason of my
I have just worked on a diachronic reading of the imaginary of
Pyongyang's urban planning and the way the ideology and the regime’s
mythology are staged in the city itself (what I call a
“topo-mythanalysis“). It was the first part of a research about the
regimes of visibility in cities (comparison Pyongyang-Seoul). The
article about the topo-mythanalysis has been written and translated, it
will be presented at the World Conference of Korean Studies in Seoul
this week. My approach follows a cultural anthropology methodology
(Durand). The article has been published in French in the journal
Croisements (April 2012) and will hopefully be published next year in
Benjamin JOINAU
Yongsan-gu Itaewon-dong 119-28
140-200 Seoul, South Korea
Tel/fax : (822) 795-2465
Cell phone : (82) 10-8905-0696
E-mail : joinau at chollian.net
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