The celebration at Kim Il Sung Square - pictures by Peter Deegan
Night time – the grand finale of Kim Il Sung’s birthday celebrations. We went to the big square named after the God himself, to watch the celebrations from a grand stand full of foreign diplomats, tourists, military brass of the Korean People’s Army in their full uniform splendour and the well-dressed, well-fed elite of DPRK society (the “New North Koreans”?) in expensive, almost bourgeoisie-looking outfit.
What a breathtaking sight! On the enormous square was a huge colourful platform with a symphony orchestra and numerous singers, surrounded by a hundred thousand Korean dancers, in a kaleidoscope of amazingly colourful traditional costumes. Balloons released into the skies, huge banners everywhere on the dazzling square overlooked by the oddly solemn portraits of Kim Il Sung, Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. An exuberant sight which only became eerie when one realised they were celebrating the birthday of a man dead for a decade and yet still the “eternal president” of the country.
Before long, beautiful Korean girls rushed up the viewing platform to get the foreign guests onto the square. And so we went, dancing with the people of Pyongyang. A dozen Sikh dancers from India, complete with turbans and flowing Punjabi robes, ran around the splendid square in a line, waving wildly the flag of DPRK. Yes, these were the people who appeared in the local papers today, raising the Book of Juche, in total admiration.
That night, Pyongyang suffered no power shortage. All the buildings were brightly lit, and I presume, the lifts and taps worked as well.
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|Kim Jong-il : North Korea's Dear Leader (Michael Breen)||North Korea: The Bradt Travel Guide (Robert Willoughby)||Lonely Planet Korea (Korea, 5th Ed) (Robert Storey)|
Copyright - Tan Wee Cheng, Singapore, 2004