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ISSN : 1598-1142(Print)
ISSN : 2383-9066(Online)
Journal of architectural history Vol.27 No.2 pp.125-138

The General Plan of Reconstruction of Pyongyang and the Role of Kim Jung-hee: Myths and History

Park Dongmin
* Corresponding Author :


During the 1950s, the North Koreans rebuilt their capital—Pyongyang—as a modern city under the principle of Soviet urban design. One North Korean architect, Kim Jung-hee, has been widely credited since the late 1980s as the master architect of the General Plan of the city’s reconstruction. While Kim Jung-hee played a crucial role in its reconstruction, his heroic image as the founding architect of Pyongyang is considerably attributed to North Korea’s mythical narratives rather than his historical activities. This paper argues that Pyongyang’s postwar urban design was not a work made by a single actor, Kim Jung-hee; rather, it was a long-term collaborative project in which a team of North Korean architects and Soviet technical advisors took their respective roles. Beginning in the late 1980s, North Korea, which had been struggling with economic decline and an increasing sense of lagging behind in its rivalry with its Southern counterpart, used heroic narratives during the 1950s’ postwar reconstruction period as an important propaganda tool for their regime. In this mythical narrative of Pyongyang’s reconstruction, massive economic and technical aid from other communist countries has often disappeared, and the memory of the architects who contributed greatly to the reconstruction but later purged in North Korea have also completely vanished. Kim Jung-hee, meanwhile, remained in this epic as the founding architect who rebuilt the city in faithful accordance with the leadership of Kim Il Sung.

건축가 김정희와 평양시 복구 총 계획도: 신화와 역사

서울대학교 규장각 한국학연구원 객원연구원