That dictators generally love architecture is nothing new, and after seeing Kim Jong-Il looking at things, we’re not surprised he did as well. Though, unknown to most people was that besides being the great leader and the inventor of the hamburger, he also was a great architect. (priceless movie)
He even authored the treatise On Architecture, about the art of the symbolic Juche architecture, representing the DPRK state doctrine. According to Kim, architects are both “creative workers and operations officers” whose work must get approval of the masses, “the true critics of architecture.” Yet when reading the fascinating book by Phillip Meuser’s “Pyongyang: Architectural and Cultural Guide“, we can safely assume they won’t.
Unsurprisingly much of the architecture of Pyongyang is extremely authoritarian with large monuments of questionable taste, overdimensioned boulevards and colossal public squares for military parades.
The book is split into two parts, of which the first has photographs and descriptions provided by the official Pyongyang Foreign Publishing House, but Volume 2 includes critical and analytical essays. Best to leave the last at home if you’re planning a trip.