April 13, 2024

Bow to the leader: a history of North Korea’s iconic and ubiquitous Kim statues

Statues began being erected in the late 1960s, and continue to be sites of mandatory pilgrimage to this day

The ubiquitous statues of the Leader dotted around the city are one of the images that come up when people discuss dictatorships. This stereotype, like many other stereotypes, has roots in reality: North Korea, among other things, is a country of statues.

The use of statues as a way to glorify the incumbent supreme leader is a relatively recent development in North Korea. Until the early 20th century, the idea of a public monument in a city square remained alien to East Asian cultures.

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