A Showcase City · Chapter 1   "Pyongyang may be considered the face of our country. Just as by the face one can perceive  the physiognomy of a man, the foreigners who visit us can appreciate the development of Korea by  seeing the city of Pyongyang. So we must embellish it well, which is equal to cleaning the face of our  country”. Kim Il Sung was convinced that the capital should be the most lustrous expression of Juche  era. The brightest it was presented to the world, the major glory would fall on his shoulders and his  Korea would receive a greater appreciation.  Upon completion of the work commissioned for the festival in 1989, Kim Il Sung felt his dream of  making Pyongyang the reflection of the splendor of the system had been translated into reality.  Foreign journalists who covered the event spared no praise. In his last years, the Great Leader was  full of satisfaction. "Every time I contemplate the city of Pyongyang, grand and magnificent, I cannot  contain the joy," he affirmed in 1994, shortly before he died. It had been 40 years since he was,  under the bombing, debating with a team of urban planners’ the city reconstruction plans. Finally the  time came to be able to boast of Pyongyang. The city’s monumental skyline was the best  presentation card for a regime that was losing his pulse with the south.  The death of Kim Il Sung's truncated the historic visit to Pyongyang that South Korean President  Kim Young Sam, was planning for a few weeks later. A trip of historic significance that was to serve  for breaking the ice in inter-Korean relations after half a century of hostility and that would have been  covered by a large number of South Korean journalists incorporated in the presidential delegation.  Far from being alarmed at this, Kim Il Sung was rubbing his hands. When explained that Kim Young  Sam would be accompanied by 80 journalists, he said that if he wished he could bring 800: "Showing  them Pyongyang is not bad, on the contrary, is beneficial. Foreigners who were in Pyongyang say  that this city is better than Seoul. The same is also said by Carter, who claimed that there was no  other city as clean and as beautiful city Pyongyang”. Only in June had he received the former U.S.  president Jimmy Carter.    Kim Il Sung understood that the doors to tourism had to be opened, with a double purpose: to  show the beauties of the country and to gain a good amount of foreign currency. North Korea saw  here a solution to oxygenate its finances. Kim Il Sung demanded to be conditioned tourist attractions  in order to receive around 100,000 tourists a year starting form 1990. In order to cause a good  impression, he considered essential to take into account another variable: the tidiness. He had  always been very obsessive with this issue.    Andrew Holloway, an Englishman who lived in Pyongyang between 1987 and 1988, hired to  translate into his native language the works of the Kim, confirmed that the North Koreans are “the  cleanest and most disciplined people in the world." There were ring roads around Pyongyang to force  the trucks to avoid the city center. High tonnage vehicles that have no choice but to cross the city  should "shower" before entering: the access points to Pyongyang had washing points where the dirt  from trucks and buses coming from some dusty road was taken away.    Kim Il Sung had a fixation not only with urban hygiene, but also with the personal one. No  reproach was saved when citizens came across untidy, wearing dirty clothes or rags. "Some time ago  I made an excursion through the streets of Pyongyang and noticed that very few people walked  properly dressed. Some women had their hair uncombed and wore coarse shoes. If women go neat,  they will look elegant, but this does not happen because they do so with negligence”, he protested in  1979. He considered untidiness a sign of backwardness incompatible with model of the country.    Neatness should not be a quality exclusively of Pyongyang. Since the seventies a mass  mobilization to clean up villages and cities was promoted. Youth cleaning brigades were created,  consisting of kids between 12 and 17. The rest of the population was not exempt from similar duties.  In Pyongyang, each neighborhood unit is responsible for sweeping and snow removal from a section  of their street. This task is usually entrusted to older women who do not work full time. In the  provinces, each farmer is responsible for whitewashing the walls of his home.  One of the incentives to arrange the towns was the dream of surpassing Seoul in splendor. Kim  Il Sung presumed that Pyongyang had turned into a "garden city", in contrast to the South Korean  capital, "the most polluted city in the world." The competition was projected into the field of  construction. "We must strive persistently to beautify the appearance of the capital. This is a major  problem in the terms of the confrontation between North and South and acute class struggle between  the two regimes: the socialist and capitalist”, he said. The primacy of one system over another had to  be shown with architectural proofs.    Such was the rivalry that there are cases of projects designed in response to a particular  challenge from the neighbor. Perhaps the most obvious is the comic war of flags near Panmunjom,  the only point of the 250-kilometer border between north and south where soldiers on both sides  patrol only at a few meters from each other, in the Joint Security Area. South Koreans were the first  to plant a pole with a huge flag of their country waving in front of North Korean noses. The gesture  sounded like a provocation. Kim Il Sung shot back, by stacking a 160 meters high pole and raising a  30 meters long flag. He not only surpassed the South but broke the world record in height of a  flagpole.  It is not the unique example. The constant pulse fed back the generation of large construction  projects. If in 1973 culminated the work of building the first subway line in Pyongyang, it came just a  year after the Seoul subway had entered in service. While in the North Korean capital began to  appear huge public buildings, in 1975 on the island of Yeouido, on the Han River on its way through  Seoul, the new palace of the National Assembly of South Korea was built and in 1978 opened Sejong  Center, the largest South Korean cultural center. Also, North Korean investments in residential  construction were replicated in the south.