19 pictures that show how images of the Supreme Leaders are plastered absolutely everywhere in North Korea

Pyongyang, North Korea.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

It’s impossible to walk through Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, without seeing a portrait of one of the country’s Supreme Leaders.

According to REUTERS, these portraits are mandatory in public spaces – like train stations, schools, and hospitals – and millions of them line the city.

But no matter where they are located, the smiling faces of Kim Jong Un, the current Supreme Leader of North Korea, his father, Kim Jong Il, and North Korean founder Kim Il Sung are hung high above the ground – so that no citizen may walk “above” them.

Here are 19 photos that show the ubiquity of Supreme Leaders in North Korea.


This painting of North Korea’s late leaders — Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung — serves as a reminder of the Kim dynasty.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

These portraits were seen hanging in a cosmetics factory during a government-organized trip for foreign reporters.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

It’s an especially tense time for Americans to visit North Korea, according to The Guardian:

“I wouldn’t go if I were an American, but as a Brit I never felt I was at risk of being arrested and being used as a political pawn,” Scott MacPherson, a Scottish citizen who recently toured the country, said. “But you certainly shouldn’t go there with your eyes closed.”


A North Korean tour guide walks past this portrait inside a teachers’ training college.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

At the same teachers’ training college, these portraits hang in a gymnasium.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

Two tour guides stand in front of an intricate portrait of Kim Il Sung.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

Around 150 reporters were granted permission to visit and tour North Korea last month to cover celebrations for the nation’s 70th anniversary as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.


A photograph of Kim Jong Il is guarded by sheer drapes in a cosmetics factory.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

On his wedding day, a North Korean groom wears a badge depicting Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

According to REUTERS, every North Korean citizen receives this badge – considered “sacred” – at the age of 12. It is to be worn on one’s lapel, over the heart, for the remainder of a citizen’s life.


Portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are hung high on the outside of a government building.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

A cameraman captures this depiction of Kim Jong Il.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

At the main Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, a North Korean cameraman films portraits.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

North Korean media is limited. Despite a recent surge of modernization, a majority of its citizens still can’t access the Internet.


At a silk factory, North Korean citizens pay their respect to the country’s late leaders.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

A North Korean woman looks toward these portraits, hung on the facade of a government building.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

These pictures are lit before dawn at the Kim Chaek University of Technology.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

As night falls, portraits – like these of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung – are lit outside of buildings all over North Korea.


Early morning at a memorial park in Pyongyang, these pictures glow in the fog.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

During a lecture at a teachers’ training college, a student stands beneath portraits while speaking.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

A North Korean soldier wears his badge while attending a military parade honoring the republic’s 70th anniversary.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

“Being together with our dear leaders through a badge hung on the closest place from our heart means that our belief that we won’t be alive if the great leaders had not existed is kept in all our hearts,” says An Sol Yong, a music teacher at a Pyongyang teacher training college, per REUTERS.


Traffic whizzes past these portraits hung in the Kim Il Sung Square.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

Portraits also hang in subway cars.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

Pyongyang’s public transit system is surprisingly posh, boasting chandeliers, dim lighting, and propaganda newspapers available to read at every stop.


Senior military officials assemble to watch a parade, below giant portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

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Pyongyang, North Korea.
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Danish Siddiqui/REUTERS

Kim Il Sung Square, where this photo was taken, can fit an estimated 100,000 people for national military parades.

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