A flower show!
I hear my reader breath a sigh of relief thinking that this will be my first North Korean review not to mention Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, the Fatherland, US imperialists or many other things routinely trotted out in every other review from my North Korean trip. This time we will get to see pretty flowers and hear of things horticultural, you say.
Well indeed you will get to see some pretty flowers but, Dear Reader, everything in North Korea of a cultural or artistic (or indeed of any) nature has one of a small number of purposes – to deify the Kim family, to glorify the army or extol the virtues of North Korea. If an event, such as a flower show can do all three in one hit so much the better. This is a flower show like no other!
Bearing in mind the real purpose of this event as outlined above (and it does come with piped patriotic music), bar a few flowers and shrubs used as space fillers, the Kimilsungia Flower Show exhibits only two flowers (granted, thousands of each), the Kimilsungia (a purple orchid) and the Kimjongilia (a red begonia). The flowers, both gifted from overseas, are, as you have worked out, named after Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il respectively. My separate review – Admire the Flowers of the Leaders – provides some detail on these flowers including how they came to get their names and some close up pictures of the flowers.
The flowers (all two of them – in their thousands) are displayed amongst pictures of the Leaders and models of all the main patriotic and revolutionary monuments of Pyongyang, particularly those directly related to Kim Il-sung such as the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun (Kim Il-sung’s/Kim Jong-il’s Mausoleum)
and Mangyongdae (Kim Il-sungs birthplace).
Models of the Arch of Triumph and the Juche Tower are naturally also on display.
And what would a North Korean flower show be without a few rockets thrown in.
The displays are set up/ sponsored by various army units, the railway company, sports organisations, factories/worker groups, foreign embassies and foreign businesses (including our tour company) – basically any institution or anyone wanting to curry or retain favour with the Leadership. One distinctly gets the impression that if your best Kimilsungias and Kimjongilias are not on display here your army unit or organisation will not be advancing far in North Korea.
The flower show, which runs for a few weeks, attracts massive crowds (over a million according to our guide – actually believable) with everyone wanting to have their pictures taken at the various displays, especially those including pictures of the former leaders – picture 2. There was quite a queue lining up for a picture in front of the massive Kim Il-sung picture on the ground floor of the exhibition (picture 1 – though you can’t see the queue in it).
From my perspective this was the most amazing flower show I have ever attended and certainly a wonderful experience to remember for a long time.
I mentioned model Juche towers being on display. Having admired the flowers it was time to see the real Tower of the Juche Idea.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on my trip to Pyongyang. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Tower of the Juche Idea – or to start the loop at the beginning go to – Pyongyang – A Capital City Unlike any Other.