Located at the foot of Moran Hill in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea, the Arch of Triumph was constructed in 1982 to commemorate the Korean resistance to Japan from 1925 to 1945. Recognized as one of the most iconic monuments of the city, the 197 feet (60 m) tall and 164 feet (50 m) wide structure is the second tallest triumphal arch in the world, after the Revolution Monument (Monumento a la Revolución) in Mexico. Although it was modeled on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, it is just 33 feet taller than its French counterpart.
The Arch of Triumph was built on the site of the triumphant return of the North Korean Army to Pyongyang in 1945, led by Kim II-sung, marking the end of the Japanese occupation of the city, and was officially opened on 15 April 1982 to mark the 70th birthday of President Kim Il-sung, for his commendable contribution to the military resistance for Korean independence. Constructed with white granite and decorated with various reliefs, inscriptions, and carvings, it used 25,500 blocks of finely-dressed white granite, representing the number of days of his life up to that point.
The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang is located at the intersection of three motorways, but the imposing nature of the huge structure is rather enhanced by the comparatively isolated area in which it stands, all alone on an extensive square, surrounded by paved roads with little traffic. Equipped with balustrades, dozens of rooms, elevators, and observation platforms, the huge arch also has four vaulted gateways, each with a height of 89 feet (27 m).
The words of the revolutionary hymn, Song of General Kim Il-sung, is inscribed on the arch, adorned with seventy blooming azalea reliefs representing each year of Kim’s life. Apart from Mount Paektu, where Kim organized his resistance force under the cover of the dense forest, the sides of the Arch are also decorated with bronze statues, symbolizing the homage to the three strong pillars of the Working Party of the country, workers, farmers, soldiers.
One of the sides of the arch bears the numbers denoting the year 1925, while the other side denotes 1945, referring to the period of struggle of Kim against the Japanese. It will not be out of place to mention here that in the year 1925, Kim II-sung, a boy of 13, left his home in Pyongyang to join the Resistance force and fight for the independence of his motherland from Japanese colonialism.
The struggle ended when his walk from Manchuria culminated in his triumphant entry in Pyongyang in 1945, known as the Arduous March in history.
The rooms inside the Arch of Triumph are connected with elevators and stairs. While there are a series of viewing platforms, the visitors can have the most impressive views across the surrounding neighborhood, including the Kim Il-sung Stadium and the Moranbong Park, from the top of the structure.