THE ART OF THE KIMILSUNGIA & KIMJONGILIA FLOWER SHOW
Flower shows are held nationwide in the DPRK over the anniversaries of the births of both Kim Il Sung (April 15) and Kim Jong Il (Feb 16), for whom these specific flowers are named. These festivals are great social occasions – time out for the family or military group, officially an opportunity to show respect to the leaders and unofficially it is, without doubt, a bit of a ‘Legoland’ day out to see how various factories, military units, and companies have come up with ingenious models and tableaux to pay respect to the leaders.
Themes are based around the two flowers: the ‘Kimilsungia’ orchid and ‘Kimjongilia’ begonia – it’s all in the name! Subject matter ranges from the birthplaces of the leaders, bases of the anti-Japanese guerillas, agriculture, the Songun Policy, and the splendor of Korea in general, to contemporary representations of advanced technology such as various rockets and missile launches. Detailed miniature scenes with all the bells and whistles always prove attractive, dry ice or some kinetic models (such as moving miniature cars) are the most popular.
ABOVE: Birthplaces of the leaders depicted using the Kimilsungia & Kimjongilia. The inclusion of the Juche Tower in the background (left photo) reminds all of Kim Il Sung as the creator of the Juche Idea. The Kimjongilia begonia background (right photo) is Jong Il Peak reaffirms the legitimacy of Kim Jong Il as being brought up near the sacred mountain of Mt Paektu and that as a young child was brought up alongside Kim Il Sung and the guerrillas fighting the Japanese occupation.
The artistic criteria here is interesting; the flowers are either a backdrop or become part of the actual tableau. All is about romanticising the imagery, creating poetic links between the flowers, and the building of a strong Korea.
ABOVE: At the entrance and elsewhere in the flower show are opportunities for a professional photographer to take your portrait – as with anything with the portrayal of the leaders this is a sombre, serious occasion and the photograph not to be trusted to amateurs.