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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: DOM Publishers; Slp edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3869221879
  • ISBN-13: 978-3869221878
  • Product Dimensions: 9.9 x 5.5 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

PYONGYANG: ARCHITECTURE AND THE PROWESS OF PROPOGANDA



Pyongyang is the perfect model for the urban-utopian ideal. Solitary and self-contained, the capital of North Korea rises above the rural landscape into a forest of white skyscrapers and a flora of evenly planted municipal multiplexes. Published and edited by German-based DOM, the Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang is truly a diamond in the rough, with a bevy of photos previously inaccessible to Western eyes. After all, how often do you come across a two-volume guide to an unknown place that resembles Lando Calrissian's Cloud City?



North Korea and the Pyongyang cityscape subscribe to the Juche ideology of self-reliance. Within Juche philosophy and the tenants of socialism, it is the duty of the architect to serve the people, since it's the masses that represent the state in socialist systems. Dually, the architects' responsibility is to balance history with the future, reflection with transformation. The "Urban Revolution" was a socialist expression of the commitment to cultural openness and to showcasing nationalism.



Over the past century, Korea has been a nation divided through Japanese colonialism, World-War II, and Soviet intervention, ending finally with the Korean War (1950-1953). Since then, much of the city has been rebuilt; Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang subsequently chronicles North Korea's progress by organizing the guide into various chapters ranging from Residential Buildings to Cultural Venues to Monuments and Transportation Infrastructure.



As North Korea's first Prime Minister, Kim Il-sung saw his principal duty as reducing the differences in the quality of life for workers and peasants and to promote communal life as an alternative to life in nuclear families. Images of the capital started to emerge out of peace-talks in 2000 between Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung. South Koreans reacted to their northern brother with bewilderment and surprise: "We had not been prepared to encounter this glowing, progressive face of the North Korean capital." The periphery of Pyongyang is devoted mostly to public buildings and multi-story residential complexes. After North Korea's liberation from Japanese forces in the late 1940's, all attention focused on satiating the people's most fundamental needs: housing and a place to cook and eat. The country soon adopted the architectural theories and urban design principles of the occupying Soviet forces. The project of building detached family homes was soon dropped due to the drastic housing shortage in favor of Soviet-inspired multi-story buildings.



As the guide explains in "Volume Two: Korean Architecture," "[Pyongyang's] low-density sets it apart from capitalist metropolitan cities, but it is not exclusively a reflection of the ideals of socialist urban planning. Rather, it is also a consequence of the dichotomy between North and South Korea. The strained political relations between the two Korean states prompted North Korea to minimize the danger of damage to buildings in possible acts of war by allowing for greater distanced between buildings. Thus Pyongyang is not only a socialist city, but also a city designed to cope with warfare."



Socialist design principles were thus adopted: Sufficient natural light and fresh-air, a solid balance between private and working areas, a communal kitchen, day care centers, kindergartens, and schools. The codification of urbanization started in the 1970's with several aims: opening road traffic, enlarging parks, showcasing the cultural heritage, planning public cultural facilities and protecting residential areas against environmental pollution to underscore the uniqueness of socialism. The Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang truly stands out amongst all other design reads because it manages to capture this seemingly paradoxical "uniqueness of socialism" beautifully through over 300 pages of color photographs.

PYONGYANG: ARCHITECTURE AND THE PROWESS OF PROPOGANDA



Pyongyang is the perfect model for the urban-utopian ideal. Solitary and self-contained, the capital of North Korea rises above the rural landscape into a forest of white skyscrapers and a flora of evenly planted municipal multiplexes. Published and edited by German-based DOM, the Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang is truly a diamond in the rough, with a bevy of photos previously inaccessible to Western eyes. After all, how often do you come across a two-volume guide to an unknown place that resembles Lando Calrissian's Cloud City?



North Korea and the Pyongyang cityscape subscribe to the Juche ideology of self-reliance. Within Juche philosophy and the tenants of socialism, it is the duty of the architect to serve the people, since it's the masses that represent the state in socialist systems. Dually, the architects' responsibility is to balance history with the future, reflection with transformation. The "Urban Revolution" was a socialist expression of the commitment to cultural openness and to showcasing nationalism.



Over the past century, Korea has been a nation divided through Japanese colonialism, World-War II, and Soviet intervention, ending finally with the Korean War (1950-1953). Since then, much of the city has been rebuilt; Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang subsequently chronicles North Korea's progress by organizing the guide into various chapters ranging from Residential Buildings to Cultural Venues to Monuments and Transportation Infrastructure.



As North Korea's first Prime Minister, Kim Il-sung saw his principal duty as reducing the differences in the quality of life for workers and peasants and to promote communal life as an alternative to life in nuclear families. Images of the capital started to emerge out of peace-talks in 2000 between Kim Jong-il and Kim Dae-jung. South Koreans reacted to their northern brother with bewilderment and surprise: "We had not been prepared to encounter this glowing, progressive face of the North Korean capital." The periphery of Pyongyang is devoted mostly to public buildings and multi-story residential complexes. After North Korea's liberation from Japanese forces in the late 1940's, all attention focused on satiating the people's most fundamental needs: housing and a place to cook and eat. The country soon adopted the architectural theories and urban design principles of the occupying Soviet forces. The project of building detached family homes was soon dropped due to the drastic housing shortage in favor of Soviet-inspired multi-story buildings.



As the guide explains in "Volume Two: Korean Architecture," "[Pyongyang's] low-density sets it apart from capitalist metropolitan cities, but it is not exclusively a reflection of the ideals of socialist urban planning. Rather, it is also a consequence of the dichotomy between North and South Korea. The strained political relations between the two Korean states prompted North Korea to minimize the danger of damage to buildings in possible acts of war by allowing for greater distanced between buildings. Thus Pyongyang is not only a socialist city, but also a city designed to cope with warfare."



Socialist design principles were thus adopted: Sufficient natural light and fresh-air, a solid balance between private and working areas, a communal kitchen, day care centers, kindergartens, and schools. The codification of urbanization started in the 1970's with several aims: opening road traffic, enlarging parks, showcasing the cultural heritage, planning public cultural facilities and protecting residential areas against environmental pollution to underscore the uniqueness of socialism. The Architectural and Cultural Guide: Pyongyang truly stands out amongst all other design reads because it manages to capture this seemingly paradoxical "uniqueness of socialism" beautifully through over 300 pages of color photographs.

http://flaunt.com/blogs/pyongyang-architecture-and-prowess-propoganda. FLAUNT Magazine

The well-publicized (albeit failed) launch of a satellite by North Korea last month sent a signal to the international community: Kim Jong-un is carrying on in the brinksman-like tradition of his father Kim Jong-il. Between them, they've built and maintained what is arguably the most isolated country on the planet - the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea or DPNK. Most of us will never visit the country, or see the grand monuments or stadia of its capital, Pyongyang. Philipp Meuser is an architect and general planner for several German embassies. He's also head of Dom Publishers, and the editor of a beautiful and eerie two volume architectural and cultural guide for North Korea's capital city.



NPR interview of publisher Philipp Meauser on the show Word of Mouth May 2, 2012

Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang from DOM Publishers is actually made up of two guides: Volume 1 is a guide from the Pyongyang Foreign Languages Publishing House, published without comment; Volume 2 features illustrated essays by editor Philip Meuser and other contributors, focusing on urban and architectural history, propaganda, spatial production, and an outsider's experience of the city of 3 million. The former is clearly a means of propaganda by the North Korean government (the guide's publication date coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birth, aka "Year 1 of the new era," can also be read in this way), but one that functions differently than other guidebooks: Instead of existing as a companion to a visit, it is a substitute for seeing the city in person, even as the country appears to be opening its borders to more foreigners recently (journalists, mainly). Volume 1 is laid out similarly to other architecture guides, broken down into chapters by building type: Urban Planning, Residential Buildings, Cultural Venues, Education and Sport, Hotels/Department Stores, Transport Infrastructure, Monuments. Of course these are not typologies exclusive to North Korea, but their expression and cohesion in a Socialist utopia (or nightmare) is what makes the city and the book so unique.



Volume 2 breaks through the official language and photography of Volume 1 to present first-hand accounts and researched histories of Pyongyang. Meuser's introduction for "The Illicit Guidebook" lays out both the second volume's essays and the city itself; the latter via helpful aerial views from the Juche Tower, a blazing monument to the "state's ideology scripted by Kim Il Sung," as the Volume 1 description reads. The essays that follow the introduction can be fairly academic, yet they are highlighted by Meuser's first-person stroll through the city and his highlighting of the state's propaganda posters and artwork. More propaganda occurs in the excerpted text "On Architecture" (1991) by Kim Jong-il, which paints architecture as the expression of national character. Yet it is the abundant illustrations throughout the two volumes that are the most illuminating and valuable pieces in the guide; they give a broad and colorful insight into a place that is portrayed in a particular light depending on one's locale.

A Weekly Dose of Architechture, posted April 23, 2012 by archidose

North Korea Has Some Of The World's Most Spectacular Architecture



German architect Philip Meuser offers a rare glimpse into one of the most secretive states in the world in his book Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang.



"Part of my motivation for this book was to do a guide book to a place that you can't even visit," Meuser said in an interview with Aaron Britt of Dwell. "I want to show that North Korea is real and that Pyongyang is real, but for an American they're also totally virtual. It's like Google Street View. You see things all over the world, but you never really leave your computer."



Meuser also points out that because Pyongyang was almost completely destroyed after the Korean War, most of the buildings were built in the last 60 years and are "interpretations of historical Korean architecture."



Dina Spector - Business Insider June 2, 2012 - quote is from an interview by Aaron Britt for Dwell - Feb 9, 2012.

Chances are, you aren't going to North Korea any time soon. But armchair travelers can take a virtual tour with "Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang," edited by Philipp Meuser (DOM Publishers, $49.95).



It's a two-volume set, the first of which contains photographs and descriptions from the North Korean government's Pyongyang Foreign Languages Publishing House. The contract required Mr. Meuser to run the images with the official captions, without critical commentary. So volume two provides more photos, history and context, with essays on topics like urban planning, mass gymnastics and propaganda posters.



"Setting aside the glaring issues of human rights and social self-determination, Pyongyang is arguably the world's best preserved open-air museum of socialist architecture," writes Mr. Meuser, who visited the country three times while researching the book. It is "a cabinet of architectural curiosities."

Chances are, you aren't going to North Korea any time soon. But armchair travelers can take a virtual tour with "Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang," edited by Philipp Meuser (DOM Publishers, $49.95).



It's a two-volume set, the first of which contains photographs and descriptions from the North Korean government's Pyongyang Foreign Languages Publishing House. The contract required Mr. Meuser to run the images with the official captions, without critical commentary. So volume two provides more photos, history and context, with essays on topics like urban planning, mass gymnastics and propaganda posters.



"Setting aside the glaring issues of human rights and social self-determination, Pyongyang is arguably the world's best preserved open-air museum of socialist architecture," writes Mr. Meuser, who visited the country three times while researching the book. It is "a cabinet of architectural curiosities."

A version of this article appeared May 26, 2012, on page C18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Visions of the Hermit Kingdom

What's behind North Korea's strange architecture?



Pyongyang's unique streetscape opens a window on a secretive regime



Pyongyang is one of the least accessible big cities in the world, but for visitors who manage to spend time there, it's not unusual to come away impressed--sort of. North Korea may be an economic basket case, but its capital manages a certain Washington-like splendor: It's a city of sweeping boulevards lined with multistory office and housing complexes, wide squares, and grassy river banks studded with monuments.



But visitors also tend to develop a few questions. Why is most of the populace walking, with just a sprinkle of automotive traffic on those vast boulevards? Why does so little light shine from the windows of the giant apartment buildings? Why does the tallest building in the city, the 105-story, pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel erected in 1987, remain an uncompleted shell?



An impulse to come to terms with one of the world's strangest cities animates "Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang" (DOM Publishers). In two volumes, the appropriately strange new book pairs a reprint of the North Korean government's own guide to its capital (long available to foreigners browsing Pyongyang bookstores; I acquired my copy on a visit more than two decades ago) with a collection of essays by outsiders about what, exactly, we're seeing here. The editor, Berlin architect Philipp Meuser, describes the work as "a paradoxical attempt to lend normalcy to the abnormal."



A Western architecture guide to an Eastern city that receives few Western visitors is a curious thing to start with. Beyond that, some might find it almost indecent to think of Pyongyang as an aesthetic achievement. After all, the most towering fact about North Korea isn't its buildings but the dire circumstances of its people--a country of 24 million now entering the third generation of rule by a dynasty of dictators whose early run of economic policy successes sputtered to an end a half-century ago.



But buildings are valuable aids to understanding any society, and perhaps even more so when it comes to one of world's most isolated and secretive regimes. The city's centrally planned skyline, its huge empty avenues and libraries and stadiums, reflect a very particular fusion of Korean culture with socialist ideology. And the streetscape of Pyongyang tells much of the story of North Korea: the gulf between the strange ambitions of the buildings and the often invisible citizens for whom they are notionally built.



Pyongyang was originally a provincial seat--known around the turn of the 20th century as the Jerusalem of the Far East, thanks to the success of resident American Protestant missionaries in converting people and establishing churches. Its fortunes changed sharply in 1945, when Josef Stalin sent troops into the northern half of Korea to accept the Japanese surrender of the territory; he installed Kim Il Sung as its ruler and made Pyongyang the capital of the newly partitioned country.



The city was nearly flattened by US aerial bombardment in the Korean War, presenting Kim an opportunity after the Armistice to "reconstruct the city from the ground up" as Ahn Chang-mo of South Korea's Kyonggi University notes in his history chapter in Meuser's book. What resulted, he writes, was something unique: "a new city with an architecture that approximates the ideals of socialism more closely than any other socialist city."



In planning Pyongyang, Kim initially tried to break down the barriers between private and working areas by building communal day care centers and even group kitchens. A large part of the goal was freeing up women for work outside the home: With most North Korean men destined to spend at least a decade in military service, visitors even today note that much of the society's productive work is done by women. But social engineering failed to make a big dent in traditional Korean family structures, including the custom of living in single-family units--meaning that despite Kim's planning, women today both work outside the home and do most of the cooking and housework.



On the aesthetic front, from 1954 Kim Il Sung insisted that architecture reflect not just generic socialist goals but, to an even greater extent, Korean national characteristics. In many public buildings constructed according to Kim's prescription, traditional sloped tile roofs add grace to the skyline, even though they sit upon modern concrete structures. The national library, called the Grand People's Study House, is one of the more felicitous examples--although, once inside, visitors discover that what the people can actually study is limited by the regime's strictures on what its subjects may read (recent English literature is sparingly rationed), and by the conditions inside. Anyone going there to spend a winter's day researching is well advised to bundle up.



The monuments in Pyongyang range from the highly derivative (the Arch of Triumph, celebrating Kim's fictitious 1945 liberation of the country, a near-clone of the more famous arch in Paris) to unique gestures such as the Workers' Party monument, featuring blocky interpretations of worker symbols, the hammer, the sickle, and--representing North Korea's paper-pushers--the writing brush.



Pyongyang's immense apartment complexes lack the roofs or other distinguishing touches of public buildings, though they have some distinctively Korean touches on the inside: When fuel is available, which means irregularly in many recent years, multi-unit housing projects offer ondol, an old Korean system in which heat is circulated beneath the floor. From the outside, the city's some 3 million residents seem to be warehoused either in soulless rectangles or--in a monument to 20th-century modernism--what Meuser calls the "Soviet interpretation of Le Corbusier's 'machine for living.'"



Many of the more extravagant apartment blocks, along with stadiums, other sports venues, and four new hotels, were thrown up in time to impress visitors who showed up in 1989 when the city hosted the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, Pyongyang's answer to its bitter southern rival's wildly successful 1988 Seoul Olympics. (Completing the Ryugyong Hotel in time for the socialist-bloc festival proved impossible.)



Expenditures for the 1989 bash all but bankrupted the regime, setting the stage for the collapse of the economy in the 1990s. Pyongyang's building boom has come to horrify onlookers with overreach and its consequences. Retired British diplomat John Everard, in his own book on North Korea, "Only Beautiful, Please: A British Diplomat in North Korea" (Asia-Pacific Research Center), calls the 1989 construction tear "a tragic waste of money for a grindingly poor country." Everard, a far-ranging walker and bicyclist and a keen-eyed observer, writes that most of the 260 facilities built on two new streets for the festival were "empty and unused" during his tenure as ambassador from 2006-2008: "The whole complex was almost a ghost town, and I often wandered along the deserted streets listening to the wind blowing past the empty buildings."



For all Pyongyang's excesses and absences, a visitor does get the feeling that the city's parts add up to an externally coherent whole. According to Meuser, "The architecture seems to be serving as the backdrop for a collective social idea."



Pyongyang's planners made imaginative use of land around the buildings in the service of the regime's aims. Staying in the Potonggang Hotel in 1979, I noted the pleasant, willow-planted, park-like setting--and then realized the hotel was literally moated, isolating its foreign clientele from the city around them. On later trips I was billeted in the newer Yanggakdo Hotel and found myself similarly isolated on a small river island.



None of this is accidental. The Kims have striven to block almost all communication between their subjects and foreigners. Like other authoritarian and totalitarian leaders, they tend to see architecture as an extension of themselves. Kim Jong Il in 1991 even published a pamphlet, "On Architecture," of which the Meuser book provides an abridgement.



Although the late second-generation ruler's name is affixed to the treatise, no doubt he had it ghost-written. One passage--"Tall people want the door handle fixed high, and short people want it low"--suggests to me that Kim Jong Il didn't even read the entire work before publication. He was so insecure about his own stature that it's nearly impossible to imagine him penning a line that drew attention to short people's needs.



It's easier to imagine Kim's true thoughts coming through when, as Christian Posthofen writes in his introduction to the abridged text, the author "openly acknowledges the ideological dimension of architecture and gives detailed instructions on how to use architecture to promote the interests of the ruling elite." In the end, observes Posthofen, who teaches at the Nuremburg Academy of Fine Arts, "it is not all about truth, goodness and beauty--it is about politics and power and the formative influences of architecture."



More specifically, it is about worshiping the leader. "Ensuring that the revolutionary outlook on the leader pervades architecture is the fundamental principle," according to the pamphlet credited to Kim, who died last December at 70. His own biggest contribution to the country's architecture appears to have consisted of monuments to his family's rule. During his years as heir apparent and ruler in his own right, he sprinkled them liberally around the country, and especially throughout Pyongyang. "Monuments remain with mankind forever, and therefore have positive effects on people's ideas regardless of social progress and change of generations," the pamphlet asserts.



In North Korea, often the line between public building and monument blurs. Such is the case at the International Friendship Museum at Mount Myohyang, a two-hour drive north of the capital. Visiting there with a group of Western tourists a few years ago, I infuriated my guides by questioning an architectural decision of the leader. Why, I asked, had the country spent untold sums building an extension of the museum when its people were starving?



The original 1978 structure, which I had first visited some years earlier, held hundreds of thousands of gifts presented by foreign visitors to Kim Il Sung. This was my first glimpse of the extension, more than 200,000 square feet of floor space completed in 1996 when a famine was taking the lives of hundreds of thousands--some estimates say millions--of North Koreans. By the time I visited, it held 55,423 gifts to Kim Jong Il.



The tiled and curved temple-style roofs, the marble floors and the four-ton bronze doors of both the original structure and the extension clearly had been intended to impress visitors with the power and glory of the leaders. The interiors nevertheless had the feel of one of those thrift shops crammed with unwanted wedding presents--dishes and utensils not listed on the bridal registry, stuffed animals and birds, tacky works of art.



Our museum guide did not like my question. "The gifts are very precious," she told me. "From 1993 to 2000 our people suffered from countless natural disasters but also from pressure in the economic field, owing to the US aggressors. Our people couldn't exhibit all these precious gifts in a poor palace, so we built this palace with our best. It is the greatest desire of all the people."



Suddenly, the lights blinked off; there had been an electrical blackout. When the lights came back on, the museum guide tried again to explain that the money had been well spent.



Today, we hear from defectors that more North Koreans than before are themselves asking such questions, in guarded conversations with trusted associates. They live among a series of monuments to what the regime thinks they should want. Will they ever get--in food and clothing, as well as shelter--what they themselves know they need?



Pyongyang is now in the hands of the country's third-generation leader, twenty-something Kim Jong Un. In his first public speech he indicated he would do better by his people, promising that his subjects "don't have to tighten their belt again." There are hints that he may plan at long last to undertake Chinese- or Vietnamese-style opening and reform. Maybe so, but maybe not.



For now Kim might do well to contemplate recent world history, which suggests that his father was not necessarily right about the permanence of monuments. There are countries whose newly removed leaders' statues have been pulled down and shattered by angry former subjects. It is a lesson that doesn't yet appear to have penetrated the regime. The newest Kim dynast started his reign with yet another round of building projects in Pyongyang: new giant statues of his father and grandfather, and a tomb for his mother. By Bradley K. Martin Boston Globe AUGUST 12, 2012







For armchair travelers, a new two-volume architectural guide to Pyongyang offers a fascinating look via photos and commentary. Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang (DOM Publishers) pulls back the curtain to shed light on this very strange and isolated capital city. - Jayne Clark, USA TODAY Travel







Architectural and Cultural Guide Pyongyang is a powerful, two-volume set packed with architectural and cultural insights on a region of the world architects rarely get a chance to glimpse: North Korea. This is an in-depth and multi-faceted reference that serves as a travel guide, cultural survey and architectural review and blends photos of buildings under construction with those of North Koreans and other subjects. Of particular interest are essays that offer social, political and cultural observations and insights as well as architectural specifics. While this set most likely will appeal to and be purchased by arts collections strong in architecture, it's reviewed here for its specific and notable interest to any collection strong in North Korean issues and culture. Simply an unparalleled pick.

August 2012 Issue of Midwest Book review

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Very clear and high quality photos throughout.
James Fuhrman
If you want to see what Pyongyang looks like, buy this book.
J. Kashinski
This book went above and beyond my expectations.
Jeremy Weinland

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Henry Berry on April 2, 2012
The first volume is a photographic gallery of Pyongyang buildings divided into major architectural categories--urban planning, residential buildings, cultural venues, education and sport, hotels/department stores, transport infrastructure, and monuments. Buildings' exteriors are shown, with occasional photos of parts of interiors. Overall, the treatment is the gross architectural forms and styles--as limited as these are as constrained by the North Korean Communist ideology--not details of interior design, materials, individual artists, or features notable for artistic or other reasons. What is notable overall despite the broad-ranging perspective with the large number of buildings shown is the repetitiveness of architectural concept. Though categorized into major categories in terms of the buildings' kind or function, the North Korean architecture is basically either functional (e. g., apartment buildings, government buildings) or monumental (e. g., statues, commemorative or symbolic structures).

The concept "juche" discussed briefly in the second volume accounts for the architecture. The term meaning simply "self-reliant" has broader, significant historical and political connotations. In a 1991 work on architecture parts of which are excerpted, the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (d. 2011) wrote, "Juche architecture regards the masses' aspirations and demands as the sole criterion for the evaluation of beauty." Although this is standard Communist ideology, for North Korean leaders since the end of World War II, "juche" was a principle intended to develop a distinctive national identity apart from Soviet Russia which had been Korea's ally in the War against Japan occupying the Korean peninsula.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Kashinski on February 19, 2013
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If you want to see what Pyongyang looks like, buy this book. I visited Pyongyang in September 2012 and I wish I'd had this book before going there so I could know more about what I was to see. Other than the official line, one's guides are not that forthcoming in describing the buildings of the city.

The photos well capture the oddly empty-looking general ambiance of the city. I was not able to determine while I was there, nor now, why the streets and sidewalks are so devoid of people. The number of people on the street does not seem to square with the purported population as given by official sources.

There do appear to be a few errors. For example, there's a gigantic card section that sits across from the spectators at the Arirang Games (the 100,000 person mass spectacle). The book says it takes 3,000 people -- I believe it's more like 30,000.

Regardless, if you're going to Pyongyang or just want to learn about the city, this book is a must.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Fuhrman on August 30, 2012
Really great set of two softbound books, mostly photos of Pyongyang. Very clear and high quality photos throughout. Lots of info about urban and city planning in Pyongyang, and some other cultural information and some history too. Almost like a guide book for tourists, and I haven't seen anything else with such great photos of the most important buildings and monuments. Also includes lots of info on residential buildings, including diagrams/layouts of the buildings and their apartments. Highly recommended.
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