North Korean flower shows are not quite the same as flower shows elsewhere. Well, that’s not really a surprise as nothing is quite the same in North Korea.
We were lucky enough to be able to visit two flower shows, a very grand affair in the capital, Pyongyang (the International Kimilsungia Festival), and this more modest show here in Sinuiju. While the size of the shows and the number of visitors attending varied significantly the nature and focus of the shows were identical.
North Korean flower shows focus on two flowers, the Kimilsungia and the Kimjongilia. Dear reader, I kid you not with those names.
These flowers, a violet hybrid orchid and a hybrid tuberous red begonia, were gifts from Indonesia and Japan respectively. I have written a separate review – Admire the Flowers of the Leaders – on the interesting story behind these flowers.
What makes North Korean flower shows so different from those anywhere else is their focus on the Leaders and the Workers Party. In other places flower shows are generally put together by local amateur growers and enthusiasts or local governments and are apolitical. In North Korea they are organised by the Worker’s Party and extremely political. Individual displays are contributed by government departments, army units, workers groups, foreign embassies, international companies, hospitals, the railway company and anyone wanting to curry favour with the leadership. Naturally all loyal party members will visit the show at least once and ensure they have their pictures taken ‘with the leaders’ in the background.
Displays are themed around events of historic (1900 onwards) significance, the leadership itself, the worker’s party, scientific achievements of North Korea, the army and so on.
The Sinuiju show was, I felt, even more nationalistic than the Pyongyang one – and that’s saying something. The people of Sinuiju seemed especially proud of the country’s military and space achievements evidenced through a proportionately higher number of rockets and missiles on display here than in Pyongyang.
Overall the show is much smaller than its Pyongyang counterpart and 10-15 minutes viewing sufficed.
Only leaving the show we were, as distinguished foreign guests, invited to write a message in the visitors book. Having done do it was translated by our guide. I am intrigued to know how accurate the translation is and what locals reading the book believe we said. If you can read Korean I would be grateful if you could send me a translation of the Korean text in my final picture.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries based on my trip to Sinuiju, North Korea. I suggest you continue with my next entry – Eternal Life Monument – or to start the loop at the beginning go to my introductory entry – In North Korea – On the Border with China.