October 1, 2009｜Korean Peninsula
Kim Song Guk
Researcher, Korean Association of Social Scientists
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which is placing importance on ethnicity and actively making the best advantage of it, we have recently been advancing the work to create a folk park in Pyongyang, following the construction of Minsok (Folk) Street in Sariwon City in North Hwanghae Province.
Minsok Street in Sariwon City is a splendid creation showing intensively the continuous history and excellent folk traditions of the DPRK, and is a place for cultural repose which the people visit with pleasure. Minsok Street, situated at the foot of picturesque Mount Kyongam, in Sariwon City, has been divided into a central area, a recreational area and a residential area.
What immediately meets the eye when you enter Minsok Street are Korean-style buildings with tiled roofs. The Korean-style buildings constructed on Minsok Street, starting with the Mount Kyongam Inn [traditional hotel], also have tiles in the distinctive form of their period, matching the characteristics of their respective historical eras, and the shape of the roofs have also been made in diverse fashion.
Located on Minsok Street are rows of restaurants selling folk cuisine, such as glutinous rice cake, savory pancake and makkolli [Korean fermented rice wine] places; in particular the makkolli served at the makkolli place is delicious, and for citizens, of course, but also for foreign guests, it is a place which they like to visit. On Minsok Street, there are indoor and outdoor amusement spaces where such things as yutnori (a board-game similar to Ludo), janggi [Korean chess] and paduk [go] can be played regardless of the season.
A place that stands out on Minsok Street is the folklore recreation area. Here many monuments and relics are exhibited. Representative among them are: the monument from the Mausoleum of King Kwanggaetho, the Chomsongdae Astronomical Observatory, a rain gauge (chugugi), the murals from the three tombs of Kangso, and a dolmen. The dolmen in the folklore recreation area is one which they relocated from Yonthan County, North Hwanghae Province.
In the folklore recreation area, there are mosaic murals divided into the different periods of Korean history, and among them “Koguryo, a Strong Country in the Orient” attracts people’s eye. The historical monuments and relics and the murals in the folklore recreation area make a contribution to the Korean people continuing the ethnic lineage undauntedly, having pride in being a wise and brave people.
At the summit of Mount Kyongam, the “Songun Pavilion”, built so as to allow Minsok Street to be viewed panoramically, is spectacular and has become the pride of Mount Kyongam. Many people visit every day, look round the historical monuments and relics, and taste traditional foods. Young students and children gather at the folklore recreation area, and their enjoying folk recreations and games such as playing shuttlecock with the feet, kite-flying, and playing yutnori has become a new scene at the foot of Mount Kyongam in Sariwon City today.
The Folk Park to be newly created in the Mount Taesong (Taesong-san) District in Pyongyang will be a kind of large museum where it will be possible to see and experience folklore and customs at first hand, making Korean history well understood. The Pyongyang Folk Park will be made up of a district for the comprehensive education of history, a district for the display of historic relics, a folk village, a folk recreation district, a combined folklore building, and other than those a management and operation district.
In the district for the comprehensive education of history nine visual boards in the form of large-scale murals are to be erected, which will show in an easy to understand way such things as the struggle and the creative history of the Korean people from primeval times to recent times, and the political, economic, and cultural life of the relevant period.
In the district for the display of historic relics some 80-plus representative Korean historical monuments and relics, including the Mausoleum of King Tangun, and the monument from the Mausoleum of King Kwanggaetho, are to be displayed as full- or reduced-scale models, and monumental architecture of the Songun [Military First] era, such as the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Arch of Triumph, and the West Sea Barrage are to be put in place in reduced scale. In the folk recreation district a general outdoor and an indoor recreation area are to be developed.
In the folk village some 50-plus buildings related to everyday living are to be reconstructed and located apart, including primeval era straw-thatched huts and ancient era dwellings, representative buildings of the Koguryo and Koryo eras, and from the Ri Dynasty, dwellings, with a well, a rice mill (pangatgan), an apothecary, and a school, and in the reconstructed dwellings are to be provided and shown the processes for making traditional foods representative of the regions. At the same time, there will be shown the manufacturing processes of: a variety of craftwork from grasses; pottery; Koryo medicine; Korean clothing; stone craftwork; calligraphy; and folk playthings.
In the combined folklore building historical relics and documents are to be put on display in a comprehensive fashion, relating to the Korean people’s: working life; family life; food, clothing and housing; folk holidays; folk games; folk cuisine; laudable and fine customs; and folk arts.
In the Pyongyang Folk Park eateries and rest houses that will be able to ensure food and rest for visitors are to be constructed, and the to-be-reconstructed Koryo Era Tongmyong-gwan and 99 rooms of dwellings are to be used as inns.
Under the wise leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the Sariwon Minsok Street which has been constructed in a characteristic fashion, and the Pyongyang Folk Park, which is newly to rise up, will broaden students’ and workers’ common knowledge of history and the Korean people, and will greatly contribute to giving them pride in their ethnicity and self-esteem.
[Translated by ERINA]