The history of the socialist Korea had periods called Golden Age of Pyongyang.
The time of the 1970s and the 1980s turned out to be the heyday of creation and construction thanks to the wise leadership of Chairman Kim Jong Il.
Turning the capital city of Pyongyang into a people’s city was a dream cherished by Kim Jong Il from his childhood.
When Korea was liberated from the Japanese imperialists’ military occupation in August 1945, there took place the Pothong River improvement project in Pyongyang next year.
One day in early summer that year Kim Jong Il went to the construction site with his mother. There he said that he would replace the traditional “Eight Scenic Wonders of Pyongyang” with “Eighty Scenic Wonders of Pyongyang” by building many houses for workers and peasants.
The latter half of the 1950s turned out to be a heyday in the history of construction of the nation.
Kim Jong Il, too, took part in the project to rehabilitate Pyongyang which had been reduced to ashes during the three years of war.
One day in May 1958 he went up Moran Hill with some of his classmates after having lunch in the construction site. The hill offered a bird’s eye view of Pyongyang under reconstruction.
Kim Jong Il said: One day immediately after the war I heard the news that Premier Kim Il Sung convened a Cabinet plenary meeting and made sure a Cabinet decision was adopted for rehabilitation of the city. That evening I saw a miniature of the construction plan of downtown Pyongyang and an article about it in a newspaper. I studied and read them time and again that night.
And I decided to build the city into the revolutionary capital replete with the Korean people’s revolutionary spirit and into the one of the people which is beautiful and good to live in.
On that occasion he also said that the appearance of the capital was just that of the country, and that the project to rehabilitate and construct Pyongyang into the city of revolution and the people was an important task to demonstrate the authority and dignity of the country.
And he said that, true to the intention of the Premier, high-rise apartment blocks had to be built in downtown Pyongyang, canals be built on the Taedong and Pothong rivers with promenades lined with trees so that people could enjoy their recreational and leisure time to the full, and parks and pleasure grounds be built on Moran, Changgwang and Haebang hills and Mt Taesong. It was really an authentic image of future Pyongyang.
In the middle of the 1970s Chairman Kim Jong Il’s idea of the construction of Pyongyang started to develop into reality.
The first project was Ragwon Street.
The Chairman supervised the construction to form a street by building apartment houses for 3 000 households in Ragwon-dong, Pothonggang District.
He understood the state of construction almost every day and often went to the site, solving knotty problems.
As a result, the construction of the street finished in a matter of several months by early October in 1975.
After the completion of Ragwon Street, Kim Jong Il proposed another large project of removing an old loop street in the downtown and building a new street there.
Examining a plan of a new loop street in late October 1979 the Chairman said: The formation of the street should be done by a completely new method. It is necessary to develop a Korean-style method of street formation and Korean-type shapes of structures. We should make the new apartments tall and slender, while setting them sparsely so that they could stand high in green foliage with their own features.
When the construction began, the Chairman inspected the construction site several times, giving meticulous guidance. And when the new loop street (the first stage) was completed in ten months after the groundbreaking, he renamed it Changgwang Street after the nearby Changgwang Hill.
Chairman Kim Jong Il paid close attention to the construction of monumental edifices as well.
The first edifice in the Golden Age of Pyongyang was the Mansudae Art Theatre.
Examining in detail the elevation of the theatre and the designs of the stage, auditorium, lounge, dressing rooms and other facilities, he indicated the orientation and ways as regards how to perfect the designs. In this way a palace of art went up in a national style and with socialist contents.
Over the following 15 years many streets and monumental structures were built, including Pipha, Taehak, Munsu, An Sang Thaek, Chongchun and Kwangbok streets, the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Arch of Triumph, the Pyongyang Koryo Hotel, the Changgwang Health Complex, the Ice Rink, the Chongnyu Restaurant, the Grand People’s Study House, the May Day Stadium and the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre.
In the 2000s another Golden Age of Pyongyang was unfolded with the construction of Mansudae Street, sprucing up the capital. Examining a miniature of apartment houses of Mansudae Street in December 2007, the Chairman gave detailed instructions to form the street in a unique way and build the best possible apartments.
Thanks to his energetic guidance the construction of the street was finished in a little over a year, and it was followed by the construction of Changjon Street. Meanwhile, the construction of apartments was propelled in different places of the city.
In his immortal classic work On Architecture published on May 21, 1991 the Chairman clarified that in the socialist society, architectural creation is the concern of the masses themselves, that architecture is created and developed rapidly drawing on their limitless strength and that architecture is a mixed art.
For its eternal vitality the work remains a valuable guideline in opening up the heyday of construction.
Kim Song Il