Pyongyang Bell

 

The Pyongyang Bell hangs from the ceiling of a belfry in Taedongmun-dong, Central District, Pyongyang. Its origin dates from olden times. The relevant data tells that the bell had hung from the ceiling of the upper storey of the Taedong Gate before being moved to the general’s terrace of the North Fortress of Pyongyang after it was built in 1714.

The present bell was cast between June and September 1726 in the western yard of the Pubyok Pavilion. It is 3.1 metres high and 1.6 metres across at the mouth and weighs 13.513 tons. Inscribed on the bell was the Buddhist images, the images of the Four Devas, patterns of cloud and the name of the bell. The hook of the bell is in the shape of two twisted dragons, and the heads of the dragons are vivid. The newly-cast bell was hung in a belfry built in front of the Taedonggwan, an inn at that time. The belfry today was the one rebuilt in 1827. In the Walled City of Pyongyang in those days the bell was beaten 33 times to toll paru (4 a.m.), and 28 times to toll ingyong (10 p.m.), when all the gates of the walled city were opened and closed. And all events there were known to the public through the tolling of the bell. As one of the leading bells in the period of the feudal Joson dynasty, the Pyongyang Bell was referred to as a speciality of the city from its early days for its beautiful appearance and impressive sound. It is one of cultural relics that typifies the Korean bells and testifies to the high development of the casting techniques in the country at that time.

On December 31, 1945, Kim Il Sung, the leader of the new Korea, inquired whether the bell near the Taedong Gate could toll or not. He said that the bell was an important means of defence signal used by the Korean ancestors in repulsing the foreign invaders, and that a valuable cultural relic, the bell was unable to toll kept in confinement after the Japanese imperialists’ occupation of the country (1905–1945). Then he earnestly said that now that the country was liberated, the bell should be allowed to toll. So, at 12:00 p.m., the sound of the bell echoed across the country, telling the great benevolence of the leader. The solemn and resounding sound of the bell deepened the emotion of the Korean people greeting the first new year after the liberation of their country.

 

 

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