Kim Il Sung Square is Pyongyang’s central square where North Korea’s massive military parades normally take place. Opened in August Juche 43 (1954), the square is located on the west bank of the Taedong River, directly opposite the Juche Tower on the other side of the river. It is the 30th largest square in the world, having an area of about 75,000 square meters (807,293 square feet) which can accommodate a rally of more than 100,000 people. The square has a great cultural significance, as it is a common gathering place for rallies, dances and military parades and is often featured in media concerning the DPRK.
The plaza is ringed by austere-looking buildings: most impressive of these is the Grand People’s Study House, the country’s largest library and national centre of Juche studies, where any North Korean over 17 can come for free lectures.
The library preserves over 30 million books. You’ll also normally visit a reading room, a classroom, the intranet room and a room full of late-‘80s cassette recorders.
Other buildings on the square include the Korean National Art Gallery, which is worth a visit to see the postwar North Korean socialist realist art collection. There are 14 rooms of prewar Korean art that are of very high quality too. There’s also the ho-hum Korean Central History Museum on the opposite side of the square. There’s a great view from the riverside bank across the Taedong to the Tower of the Juche Idea, where groups usually go to take photos. There’s also the Austrian joint venture Ryongwang Coffee Shop here, where you can get a decent cappuccino.