The chances that you ever visit the city of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, are relatively slim, even though specialized tours are offered for daredevils who are interested in exploring the most secluded country in the world.
That’s because this remarkable city is filled with intriguing landmarks. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some interesting facts about the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, one of the most puzzling mausoleums in the world!
1. It’s located on the northeastern edge of Pyongyang
The Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is an enormous structure situated on the northeastern outskirts of the relatively large city of Pyongyang, the mysterious capital of North Korea.
A few kilometers to the southwest of this immense building we can find the Rungra Island which features the largest stadium in the world, the Rungrado May Day Stadium.
An equal distance in the same direction we can find the center of the city with multiple other of the city’s most prominent landmarks, including the Juche Tower, a monument dedicated to the country’s ideology, and the Kim Il-sung Square, the location of the world-famous military parades in which the regime flaunts its bombs.
2. It was originally built as the official residence of the leader
Even though it serves as a mausoleum today, this wasn’t the first purpose of this enormous structure. Back when it was completed in the year 1976 it was referred to as the “Kumsusan Assembly Hall.”
I was also the official residence of the first “Great Leader” of North Korea, the man who came up with the Juche ideology, Kim Il-sung (1912-1994).
As you can clearly see from the sheer size of his palace, being humble wasn’t exactly part of the plan.
3. The palace was turned into a mausoleum in the 1990s
The building wasn’t a mausoleum until Kim Il-sung died in the year 1994. This was the time that the structure was transformed into an enormous mausoleum by his son and successor son Kim Jong-il (1941-2011).
Even though there obviously aren’t any official details about this project, it’s assumed that the cost of this transformation was enormous.
Kim Jong-Il didn’t really mind spending a few bucks more to honor his late father, the founder of the fatherland, so some sources state that it cost anywhere between $100 and USD 900 million to turn it into one of the most impressive mausoleums on the planet.
4. Both former great leaders are on public display inside the building
While most mausoleums conserved the dead bodies of the great leaders in a closed sarcophagus, like for example Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb at Les Invalides in Paris, this isn’t the case at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.
The bodies of both father and son are embalmed and on display, in a glass sarcophagus for every visitor to see. They forever rest their heads on a buckwheat pillow, a traditional Korean thing.
They also have a comfy blanket which is unsurprisingly the flag of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the only political party in the country which is the cornerstone of the ideology.
One of the most peculiar facts about the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun is that both leaders have been designated as the “Eternal President and Eternal General Secretary of North Korea” respectively following their deaths.
5. They were not the first Communist leaders to be embalmed
Even though the remains of the two former Great Leaders of North Korea are housed in the largest Communist mausoleum on the planet (it covers an area of 10,700 square meters / 115,000 square feet), they aren’t the only embalmed Communist leaders in the world.
If you thought that mummification was only an ancient Egyptian thing then that’s not correct. Multiple Communist leaders have been entombed in glass coffins for everybody to see.
Some of the most famous examples are
- Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924) in Lenin’s Mausoleum on Red Square in Moscow.
- Mao Zedong (1893-1976) at the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China.
- Ho Chin Minh (1890-1969) at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam.
6. The structure is fronted by an enormous landscaped garden
The façade of the building faces north and is fronted by an enormous square that has a length of approximately 500 meters (1,600 feet).
One of the most remarkable facts about the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun facts is that this square is adjoined by a wonderful-looking garden. This garden is in mint condition as it’s constantly groomed by an army of workers who dearly love their great leaders.
This garden, which was reportedly decorated by current leader Kim Jong-un is also decorated with sculptures glorifying the Workers’ Party and the country.
7. The building’s interior resembles an airport terminal
As you can see from the building’s exterior, it’s rather dull-looking (as most buildings in North Korea) and the interior isn’t any different.
The handful of Westerners that have visited the mausoleum so far mentioned that it resembles the endless hallways of an airport terminal, including the automated walkways we can find there.
Visitors are thoroughly checked before entering and nobody (including North Korean tourists) can bring any personal belongings inside. The seemingly never-ending walk through the building ends in the rooms where the remains of both men are on display.
8. The remains of the leaders aren’t the only things on display
Before visitors arrive at these rooms, a seemingly never-ending exhibit of items related to the two great leaders is displayed, including countless university degrees (including one of the fraudulent Kensington University in California) and rewards received from countries all around the world.
Yes, the personality cult of the nation’s ultimate heroes reaches absurd levels here, even by North Korean standards.
Perhaps the most remarkable items on display are the personal belongings of the two men. These include both the Mercedes of Kim Jong-il and his personal train cart featuring an Apple Mac on its desk, things most North Koreans have certainly never heard of before!