Here we are approaching Mansudae Hill, the location of 20-meter tall statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Love the men or hate them, they ruled the country for seventy years, so they’re important for the people here.
We see children leaving the giant statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. At the start I was holding the camera at my side to be more respectful but picked it up when I saw everyone else holding their cameras up. Toward the end I show the 20-meter tall statues and their grand surroundings. Kim Jong Il’s statue was just unveiled by his father’s.
The last clip in the video shows North Korean people and families departing after paying respects to Kims’ statues.
I wrote earlier on the genuineness of emotions we saw on the people here, in contrast with the widespread view that months before North Koreans faked emotions on Kim Jong Il’s death. Maybe they did, I don’t know, but on this occasion, we saw a lot of genuine powerful emotion, and we stood right with them and approached the statues too.
If you look closely in this video you’ll see signs of it — though nothing like when we stood just below the statues.
Did they love their leaders, honor them, hate them, or what? I don’t know what emotions they felt or how they felt about the Kims or their government, only that they showed a lot of strong emotion.
Seeing statues that big of leaders does not in anyway suggest democracy, proportional representation, or individual rights of citizens. It suggests the state above all, arbitrarily ruled by someone unaccountable to anyone. I can’t think of such conditions as anything but unpleasant at best. I struggle to imagine what people who lived their whole lived knowing nothing else think of it.
Here is a picture of us for comparison
Interview with our group the next day
In the bus ride the next day out from Pyongyang, we discussed the emotions we sensed of North Koreans paying respect at the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
We also talked about the land and a few other topics.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees