Training for a marathon is hard. But we’re here to get you excited, pumped, for what you’ll see during your run in North Korea. This won’t be a dry, boring course. Instead, you’ll take sightseeing in North Korea to another level and have a lifetime of memories to take home with you. Here are some of the highlights of the Pyongyang Marathon race route:
Kim Il Sung Stadium
The official Pyongyang Marathon course route starts and ends in the famous Kim Il Sung Stadium, home to the DPRK National Football Team, the DPRK National Women’s Football Team and the Pyongyang City League. It’s an open-air stadium designed for a variety of sports games nestled at the foot of Moran Hill. It was originally called the Moranbong Stadium, but in April 1982 with the renovation and expansion of the stadium to accommodate 100,000 seats, it was re-named the Kim Il Sung Stadium.
After the starting pistol is shot, the professional runners will lead the pack with a lap around the Kim Il Sung Stadium to mark the start of the race. The stands will be packed with excited spectators.
Arch of Triumph
As runners depart the Kim Il Sung Stadium to hit the streets of Pyongyang, they will cross through the iconic Arch of Triumph. This tower is the second largest triumphal arc in the world, standing 60m high and 52.5m wide, beating the Arc de Triomphe in Paris in height by 10 meters. It was built in April 1982 to commemorate the liberation of Korea from Japan occupation. The dates of the occupation are carved into each side of the arch “1925” and “1945”. 10,500 blocks of granite were used to build this massive arch. The carvings at the top of the arch are the words to “Song of General Kim Il Sung.”
The Friendship Tower was built by the DPRK in memory of the heroic China People’s Volunteer Army soldiers who fought in the Korean War to aid the North. It celebrates DPRK-China friendship. First built in October 1959, it was later re-built and expanded in 1984. It’s 30 meters high.
It’s reported from each respective source that 152,000 Chinese soldiers, and between 215-350,000 North Korean soldiers, died in the Korean War. 137,899 South Korean soldiers and 36,574 U.S. soldiers comprised the majority of the deaths on the opposing side, with 17 other countries suffering casualties and deaths in the Korean War fighting for the South Korean side. (Source: wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War#Casualties)
Victorious Fatherland Liberation Museum and the Pueblo
The museum was originally built in August 1953 as the “Fatherland Liberation War Museum”. The museum underwent a massive renovation in 2013 and re-opened to the public in July 2013 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. When it underwent renovation, the USS Pueblo was also moved and it’s now parked next to the war museum. This museum depicts the Korean War from the North Korean perspective. Visitors beware, it’s heavily anti-American and the military guides may put you on the spot about your knowledge of the Korean “forgotten” war, but they warm up and end the tour with a smile and a handshake.
Kim Il Sung Square
City squares are often places of expression and history. That is no different in North Korea, right in the heart of Pyongyang lies the Kim Il Sung Square. The square is highly publicized and is the host of organized dances and military parades. Several buildings of notable significance surround the square. Notably the Korean National Art Gallery and the Ho Hum Korean Central History Museum, both of them treasure troves of the Korean nation.
Mirae Scientist Street
The Mirae Scientist Street is a part of the government’s most recent country-wide initiative for scientific development and advancement under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. There are new scientist residences and sci-tech complexes being built in various places around the country, and incentives provided to those who choose to study science over other disciplines. This new street has neon-lit residential buildings, supermarkets, science schools for young people and even its own pizza restaurant!
The Tower of Juche Idea can be seen from most places in the city, standing tall at 170 meters high. Completed in April 1982, the tower is located on the western side of the Taedong River, directly across from the Kim Il Sung Square and the Grand People’s Study House. It represents the Juche Philosophy, which serves as the national ideology of self-reliance and independence. The lift inside the tower takes you to the top for a panoramic view of the city. The iconic flame at the top of the flower lights the city at night.
Victory Lap in the Kim Il Sung Stadium