Make flowers, not war

Pyongyang is on a charm offensive accompanying the sudden diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula, with a summit due later this month between leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in

Published: 16th April 2018 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th April 2018 01:57 AM   |  A+A-

Pyongyang is on a charm offensive accompanying the sudden diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula, with a summit due later this month between leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in. Its latest effort came in the form of a flower show

Named after Pyongyang’s leaders

When nuclear-armed North Korea put on a flower show last year to celebrate the birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung, scale model rockets were on display. But this year, taking pride of place at the national security ministry stand was a plant with a record 49 blooms

The event is part of the annual commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Un’s grandfather Kim Il Sung on April 15, and features tens of thousands of the purple orchids named after the North’s founder by the then Indonesian leader Sukarno in 1965. Originally the Kimilsungia had only five to seven flowers per stem, but selective breeding has raised that to 10 to 15, and the national security ministry’s record-breaking specimen had 49 flowers on four stems

In North Korea, Kimjongilias are red, Kimilsungias are purple

Kim Jong Un’s father Kim Jong Il also has a flower named after him. Kimjongilia is a kind of red begonia originally bred by a Japanese botanist. “It might be said that the Kimjongilia’s bouffant petals echo the hairstyle of North Korea’s eponymous ruler, but a guide at the exhibition has a more politically correct explanation of the flower’s appearance. Its bright red hue, she says, reflects Kim Jong Il as a “person of passion, with a very strong character,” reported the Economist in 2010

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