"The Eternal President" P'yongyang by CliffClaven

P'yongyang Travel Guide: 265 reviews and 925 photos

Shakespeare was big on the pathetic fallacy, the idea that somehow nature is in tune with portentous human events. In Shakespeare's plays the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes whenever some momentous event is nigh. It was rather like that when old Cliffie visited the mausoleum of Kim Il Sung on the outskirts of Pyongyang on May Day. As the bus left the city centre the sky darkened and soon big fat drops of rain were bouncing off the bus windows, as if heaven itself were weeping. It was all very much in keeping with the quasi-religious feeling that the authorities seek to induce in visitors to the Great Leader's vast mausoleum.

Getting into the mausoleum is harder than getting into most airports. Visitors have to relinquish all metal objects – cameras, iPods, etc – and then walk through metal detectors before submitting to individual frisking by security agents. Long travelators carry the faithful forward to the various rooms, one housing a serenely backlit statue, through the Hall of Lamentations recording the woe and sorrow of the Korean people and into the sombre room where the embalmed body of the Eternal President is displayed. Visitors walk forward, four abreast, to bow at the foot and each side of the bier. Old Cliffie saw the Great Leader in life - in Dresden in 1984 – and now he saw him in death.

  • Intro Written Jul 9, 2008
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