The annals of Socialist Korea recount epochs known as the “Golden Age of Pyongyang.” The 1970s and 1980s emerged as an era of pinnacle creativity and construction, propelled by the sagacious guidance of Chairman Kim Jong Il.
Transforming the capital city of Pyongyang into a city for the people had been a cherished dream since Kim Jong Il’s childhood. Following Korea’s liberation from Japanese imperialist military occupation in August 1945, the Pothong River improvement project in Pyongyang commenced the next year. During a visit to the construction site in early summer, Kim Jong Il envisioned replacing the traditional “Eight Scenic Wonders of Pyongyang” with “Eighty Scenic Wonders of Pyongyang” by erecting housing for workers and peasants.
The latter part of the 1950s witnessed a zenith in the nation’s construction history. Kim Jong Il actively participated in the post-war rehabilitation project for the war-ravaged Pyongyang. In May 1958, atop Moran Hill, he articulated his vision of crafting the city into a revolutionary capital embodying the spirit of the Korean people and a beautiful, livable space.
With the onset of the 1970s, Chairman Kim Jong Il’s vision for Pyongyang began to materialize. The inaugural project was Ragwon Street, where he oversaw the construction of apartment houses for 3,000 households. Rigorous supervision by the Chairman ensured the completion of the street in a matter of months by October 1975.
Post the Ragwon Street triumph, Kim Jong Il proposed the ambitious undertaking of replacing an old loop street in downtown Pyongyang. He emphasized adopting a novel method, Korean-style street formation, and distinct building designs. The new loop street, completed in ten months, was renamed Changgwang Street after Changgwang Hill.
Chairman Kim Jong Il was deeply involved in the construction of monumental structures, including the Mansudae Art Theatre, exemplifying a national and socialist architectural style. Over the next 15 years, numerous streets and landmarks, such as Pipha, Taehak, Munsu, An Sang Thaek, Chongchun, 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 Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, enriched the cityscape.
The 2000s witnessed another Golden Age of Pyongyang, marked by the construction of Mansudae Street. With the Chairman’s meticulous guidance, the street, and subsequently Changjon Street, materialized in a unique way. His immortal classic work, “On Architecture,” published on May 21, 1991, emphasized the role of the masses in architectural creation and remains a timeless guideline for ushering in construction’s heyday.