The larger-than-life portraits of Lenin and Karl Marx that once dominated Kim Il-sung Square have been removed, suggesting a change of direction within North Korea.
The NKNews web site, which monitors developments in the secretive state, has reported that the austere images of two of the founding fathers of communism were first taken down in the summer but have never been replaced.
Lenin and Marx had glared out over the square – used for military march-pasts and mass rallies in support of the regime – for decades, despite the Workers’ Party of Korea revising its charter in 1980 to replace their concepts with those of Kim Il-sung.
Communism has been replaced by the home-grown philosophy summed up as “juche,” meaning the spirit of self-reliance.
Despite deviating from the teachings of Marx and Lenin, the pictures had remained.
NKNews said there are no indications as to why Marx and Lenin are being air-brushed out of North Korean history at this time, although it does tie in with other changes that have been noticed in the North.
Kim Jong-un, the 29-year-old leader of the nation, is reportedly behind efforts to improve the lives of ordinary people and has made careful moves to shift control away from the all-powerful military.
Analysts believe that he is also trying to win the support of the public by making himself more accessible and visible in everyday life. Since he assumed power in December last year, he has publicly chastised the operators of a shabby theme park, staged a television show with Disney characters and married an attractive pop singer.
He is also likely to have been behind the decision to replace another portrait in Kim Il-sung Square – of his grandfather wearing a fierce scowl – with one of a smiling and more benevolent-looking picture of the founder of the nation.
Mongolia removes last statue of Lenin
ULAN BATOR: Mongolia’s capital has removed its last statue of Lenin, one of the final vestiges of the country’s longtime alliance with the Soviet Union as it forges ever-closer links to the West and China. Ulan Bator’s Mayor Bat-Uul Erdene branded the late Communist leader Vladimir Lenin a “murderer” after the statue was hoisted onto a lorry on Sunday as a small crowd of bystanders threw old shoes at it.
Mongolia was effectively a Soviet satellite state during the Cold War until it abandoned Communism without a shot being fired in 1990. “Approximately 100 million people were killed during the communist era.
So we have seen that the Communists killed even more people than those who died in the World Wars,” said Bat-Uul, a fierce opponent of Communism and former protest leader who helped usher in a new era of democracy more than two decades ago. “And the person who started all of this was Lenin,” he said. The 58-year-old statue will be auctioned off, with a starting price being set at 400,000 tugrik (just under $300).
For decades, Lenin was worshipped as “Teacher Lenin” by schoolchildren in Mongolia, a landlocked country that, despite rich mineral and other resources, remained impoverished during seven decades of dominance by Moscow as it was restricted to trading mainly with the Soviet Union.
But Mongolia is undergoing rapid modernization-economic growth hit a stunning 17.3 percent in 2011 – built on the back of a spectacular mining boom that has drawn in Western and other foreign investors lured by vast reserves of coal, copper and gold. Mongolian foreign trade, formerly conducted almost entirely with the Soviet Union, is now dominated by China and its huge appetite for Mongolian resources.
Thousands of Lenin statues were erected across the former USSR after his death in 1924 but were torn down following the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1991. The Lenin statue in Ulan Bator had survived so long because the Russian leader is revered by some for supporting Mongolia in its fight for independence from China in 1921.