Top 10 Interesting Juche Tower Facts

Little is known about the most secretive country in the world, North Korea. We know that it’s home to the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, the largest stadium in the world and that there is one fascinating tower that dominates the skyline of the country’s capital, Pyongyang.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting facts about the Juche Tower, one of the most prominent landmarks in the capital of North Korea!

1. It’s located on the east bank of the River Taedong

The Juche Tower is a tall tower that features an observation deck located in the center of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. It can be found on the east bank of the major river that flows through the city, the Taedong River.

The Rungra Island which is home to the largest stadium in the world is located just a kilometer (0.6 miles) to the north.

On the opposite bank of the river, there’s the Kim Il Sung Square, one of the most famous squares in the city that was built in 1954 and which is the scene of the military parades of North Korea.

Juche Tower from Kim Il Sung Square
Tower across the river / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

2. The Juche Tower was built to commemorate a special occasion

One of the most remarkable Juche Tower facts is that it’s not a coincidence that it was constructed right across Kim Il Sung Square. It was completed in the year 1982, the year of the 70th birthday of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung.

The man ruled the country as its so-called “Supreme Leader” from its establishment in 1948 until he died in 1994, making him the longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th century.

The tower was built to commemorate Kim Il-sung’s 70th birthday.

Kim il sung and his son
Kim Il-sung (left) and his son / Nicor / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

3. It was named after the ideology developed by Kim Il-sung

Just like Hitler, who was the leader of the Nazi Party in Germany, Kim Il-sung was the leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). He developed the ideology of the party which changed the future of the country forever.

This ideology is referred to as the “Juche Ideology” and literally translates to “self-reliance.” This pretty much explains why North Korea is the most isolated country in the world.

Even though the ideology borrows a lot of ideas from Marxism–Leninism, it was transformed into a unique form of government that focuses on independence, a national economy, and self-defense. That’s pretty much why they ride bombs around in the streets of Pyongyang.

The Juche Tower was named after this ideology.

Juche Tower facts
The tower at night / John Pavelka / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

4. It’s the tallest tower in the world built with granite blocks

The tower stands 170 meters (560 feet) tall and was built with granite blocks. This means that the Juche Tower is the tallest in the world constructed with granite!

The tower itself is 150 meters (490) tall while the torch on top of it is 20 meters (66 feet) high.

Juche Tower granite blocks
The blocks / Laika AC / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

5. Its height surpasses a famous monument in the United States

One of the most interesting Juche Tower facts is that they made sure it surpassed the height of what is considered to be one of the most famous monuments in Washington D.C., the Washington Monument.

This monument in the capital of the United States stands 169 meters (555 feet) tall, which makes the monument in Pyongyang is less than 1 meter (3 feet) taller, which makes us draw this conclusion.

While the perception of their greatness is clearly an important thing in North Korea, they didn’t take into account that there’s another monument in the United States which is even higher. The San Jacinto Monument near Houston in Texas stands almost 173 meters (567 feet) tall, which means it’s 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) taller than the Juche Tower.

interesting facts about the Washington Monument
Washington Monument / Pixabay

6. A specific number of granite blocks were used during its construction

When it comes to monuments like these in North Korea, they make sure that everything has a meaning which commemorates their dear leader. With this monument, it’s no different!

There are a total of 70 dividers as the tower goes up, a reference to the 70th birthday of Kim Il-sung, and the tower was built with exactly 25,550 granite blocks. This means that each block refers to a day in the life of the Supreme Leader because 365 x 70 = 25,550.

To make the calculation easier, they didn’t include blocks for years with leap days.

Juche Tower at night
At night / Yeowatzup / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

7. Its design is supposed to represent a traditional Asian tower

One of the most distinctive architectural structures in Asian countries is referred to as a pagoda, a tiered tower that is common in countries like China, Japan, Vietnam, and multiple other Asian countries.

The tower was built in such a way that it resembles a pagoda, a common structure in premodern Korea.

Perhaps one of the most famous buildings in the world which was designed to resemble a pagoda is one of the most amazing skyscrapers in the world called Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

Juche Tower pagoda
The pagoda design / Calflier001 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

8. A statue representing the Juche ideology is located at its foot

While the tower’s design isn’t a direct reference to the Juche ideology, the massive statue located at its foot is. This statue stands 30 meters (98 feet) tall and represents the core ideas of the ideology.

3 idealized figures are depicted and each of them holds a particular tool:

  • The worker holds a hammer.
  • The farmer holds a sickle.
  • The working intellectual holds a writing brush.

It’s no surprise that these 3 tools are the main parts of the emblem of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

Juche Tower Statue
The statue / Bjørn Christian Tørrissen / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. The monument is topped with an enormous torch

One of the most fascinating features of the Juche Tower is the metal torch on top of it. This structure has a height of 20 meters (66 feet) and weighs a whopping 45 tonnes.

One of the most amazing Juche Tower facts is that this torch is continuously illuminated, day and night!

Juche Tower and Rungrado 1st of May Stadium
Tower and stadium / Yeowatzup / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

10. The observation deck provides stunning views of Pyongyang

Just below this torch, there’s an observation deck that can be visited by elevator. Needless to say that this is perhaps the most intriguing place in Pyongyang to get a clear view of the entire city.

And what an amazing and fascinating view of this extremely isolated place it is, don’t you think?

Juche tower observation deck
From observation deck / Laika AC / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en