PIIE Blog | North Korea: Witness to Transformation
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy. More › ›
Subscribe to North Korea: Witness to Transformation Search
North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Not Satire: Kimjongilia

by | July 14th, 2012 | 07:00 am
|

Most North Korea watchers have at one point or another stumbled across Kimjongilia. The flower was actually bred by Japanese horticulturalist Kamo Mototeru to commemorate Kim Jong-il’s birthday in 1988. If you need a 100 page book on the flower, the foreign language publishing house in Pyongyang offers up a treatise with “Absolutely Everything One Needs to Know on the Kimjongilia Begonia Flower, The Flower of Marshal Kim Jong Il of North Korea.” However, if you don’t have time, maybe you can go with a new offering—described below in a recent KCNA story—that weaves in more of the Dear Leader’s life.

More seriously, director N.C. Heikin used the flower as an entry point for her 2009 Sundance film selection Kimjongilia; I had the pleasure to serve on a panel with her on the film several years back. It nicely contrasts the cult of personality with the personal experiences of defectors. For the record, we would recommend it over either of the books Pyongyang has on offer.

Full-length True Story Book Off Press in DPRK

Pyongyang, June 25 (KCNA) — A full-length true story book “Kimjongilia and the World” was brought out in the DPRK.

The book contains 14 chapters under such titles as “A village at foot of a low hill”, “The country not far away” and “The most famous flower” dealing with touching stories about revolutionary feats of leader Kim Jong Il and his greatness and noble virtues.

The book tells a moving story that a famous Japanese horticulturist Mototeru Kamo named a newly-bred flower after Kim Jong Il and presented it to him on his birthday, the Day of the Shining Star. Kamo cultivated it through his painstaking research for more than two decades, completely fascinated by the personality of Kim Jong Il as a great man.

The book cites true facts that Kimjongilia got top prizes at various international shows and fairs and it is in full bloom in the minds of mankind.

Kimjongilia festival takes place in Pyongyang with splendor every year to mark the Day of the Shining Star. It was awarded top and special prizes at international flower shows and world horticultural expos held in China, Sweden, the U.S. and other countries.

There appeared associations named after Kimjongilia and societies of its lovers in different countries and regions. The number of those who build greenhouses and cultivate the flower of the sun with sincerity is now on the steady increase.

The book carries stories about people who bring the flower of the sun into fuller bloom with the belief that Kim Jong Il will always be with the Korean people.