February 1, 2010｜Korean Peninsula
Kim Song Guk
Researcher, Korean Association of Social Scientists
Recently in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, projects to renovate and modernize a great number of cultural facilities in accordance with the aesthetics of the times have been actively rolled out. Representative among them are the renovation of the Moranbong Theatre, the Pyongyang Grand Theatre, the East Pyongyang Grand Theatre and the Taedongmun Cinema House.
The Moranbong Theatre situated on Pyongyang’s Moran Hill, a place of scenic beauty from olden times, is a historic place, where the First Session of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was convened, and the establishment of the republic was proclaimed. The theater, which was renovated and modernized in 2005, has an auditorium, and a stage ceiling and wall surfaces with distinctive architectural forms, and, more than being a theater where performances are held, it gives the impression of being a museum of the creative arts.
In the theater, equipped with the latest acoustic facilities, performances of the Pyongyang State Symphony Orchestra have been held. The Pyongyang State Symphony Orchestra which has become famous through splendidly creating many works, including the orchestral piece “Rich Harvest Comes to the Chongsan Plain”, has also performed works famous worldwide, and in December 2006, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth, performed symphonic works which he created and got a good reception from the Korean people and overseas guests.
The Pyongyang Grand Theatre, as the place of origin of the revolution in opera in which the “Sea of Blood (Phibada)” style of revolutionary opera was created, was renovated and modernized in April 2009.
The theater, which is situated in the center of Pyongyang, while keeping as it is the previous form of construction topped with large and small hip-and-gable roofs of Korean-style blue tiles, was remodeled so as to match modern aesthetics, strongly retaining ethnic color in its external shape and interior. The opening ceremony for the 26th April Spring Friendship Art Festival from 10 to 17 April 2009 and performances by artistic troupes from Russia and of Korean residents of Japan were staged at the theater amid great success.
At the theater, which harmonizes well with the streets of Pyongyang by displaying its ethnic color, the revolutionary operas “Sea of Blood” and “The Flower Girl” are currently being performed and have earned the great acclaim of audiences.
The East Pyongyang Grand Theatre is on a graceful and scenically beautiful bank of the Taedong River, and in the vicinity are the “Kimilsungia–Kimjongilia Greenhouse” and the Central Youth Hall.
The theater was renovated and modernized in a rational fashion so that the stage and 1,500 audience seats could achieve complete harmony. Regardless of the position of the audience member, the formative and artistic arrangement of the rows of theater seats has been able to ensure their ease.
In the theater’s central hall the splendid “Ullim Falls”, which are one of the DPRK’s nine Songun scenic views, are depicted in a mural, and in the second floor corridor a gigantic mural (Samjiyon lakeside) 33 meters long by 3.2 meters high is displayed.
The East Pyongyang Grand Theatre was renovated and modernized in January 2007. Here performances have taken place by the historic Mansudae Art Troupe, beloved of the Korean people. At the theater on 26 February 2008 there were performances by the United States’ New York Philharmonic, with its long history, and the conductor and performers of the symphony orchestra were envious of the theater, which is equipped with such things as the latest acoustic facilities and stage settings so as to allow the symphony performances to proceed successfully, and no praise was spared.
The Taedongmun Cinema House was renovated and modernized in April 2008. The cinema house, in accordance with modern aesthetics and historical principles, was reconstructed in elegant style on the empty lot from the demolished former building. The interior of the building was completely refurbished, two cinema theaters were created with 500 seats, and the seats have made it possible for the audience members to be able to watch films without any discomfort wherever they sit. Inside the cinema a hall has also been created where exhibitions of photographs can be held.
At the Taedongmun Cinema House not only DPRK films but also films from overseas are screened, and it is packed each and every day. Today in the DPRK, throughout the whole country and not just in the capital Pyongyang, projects to establish modern cultural facilities are actively being carried out.
[Translated by ERINA]