In the third KYD No. 16 teaser, Tim Robertson attempts to see behind the façade of North Korea’s tourist trail on the 101st birthday of Kim Il Sung.
Even Mother Nature, it seems, has been conscripted to help propagate the Kim family’s personality cult. In autumn, North Korea is devoid of any colour: the rice paddies have not yet been sown and the dirt fields lay bare save for a few skeletal trees that struggle up from the earth. But the country has two unique flower varieties that provide highlights throughout Pyongyang: the Kimilsungia and the Kimjongilia. I was there for the celebration of Kim Il Sung’s 101st birthday, the nation’s most important national holiday, and the first stop on the itinerary was the flower show.
One might think that putting together an entire exhibition with only two flower varieties would be an arduous task, but in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) the solution is a simple extension of what’s practiced everyday: they’re not floral arrangements in as much as they’re propagandistic statements made from flowers. The Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia provided the decorative borders to models of missiles, replicas of Pyongyang’s best-known monuments and photos of the leaders.
To read the rest of Tim’s piece, pre-order a copy of Issue 16, available online 20th January!