On our way to visit the birthplace of Kim Il-Sung, where his family lived while he studied in China, our tour guide told us a story about him. When Kim Il-Sung heard that North Korea was in trouble he walked 2000km on foot in 2 weeks to get back to his hometown and save the Korean people. After a quick bit of mental arithmetic I realised that this was physically impossible.
For those who don’t know Kim Il-Sung became the Russian-backed Chairman of North Korea after the Second World War and holds the position of President of the DPRK to this day. When they refer to the President, they are still referring to Kim Il-Sung. Kim Jong-Il became (and still is) the General Secretary, and Kim Jong-Un (the current living head-of-state) holds the position of Supreme Commander.
The bus took us out of Pyongyang while our Korean tour guide told us jokes. The bus took us to the outskirts of Pyongyang. Before we arrived we could see schoolkids being led up a path towards the house. Dragonflies buzzed all over as we got off the bus. We were led up the same path everyone else was walking and came to the former home of Kim Il-Sung.
As we were tourists we were allowed to jump the queue of people waiting to go inside. Inside we were shown the various rooms that Kim Il-Sung and his family stayed in.
We were shown the tools that Kim Il-Sung’s family used when they were farmers before Kim Il-Sung’s return.
There were a couple of stories told to use here. One was that Kim Il-Sung’s grandfather used to walk around on an bent and useless walking stick, but that when Kim Il-Sung returned and became President he was able to give him a new straight walking stick. Another story was that his mother had to carry around rice in a bent and broken barrel, but when Kim Il-Sung returned he was able to give them new barrels.
The place was obviously designed to show that Kim Il-Sung was from a poor farming background, that he was a working man. There is likely some truth to this, but there are some obviously tall tales told about him, though none as ridiculous as you will read in Western media.
After seeing his home we were taken to a nearby well. It is said that if you drink from this well you will live a long and healthy life. We joined the Koreans in drinking from the well who were more than happy to share it with us. After which we said our goodbyes we headed back to the bus to head out to our next destination.