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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February 16: Dictator Theorists

On the 68th (or is it 69th?) birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, speculators read floral clues and predict his successor.


Officials in Pyongyang at the convocation Feb. 16, 2010 to honor Kim Jong-Il’s birthday. Red kimjongilia begonias set the scene but the North Korean leader did not attend.

Photo: North Korea News Agency, via AP

“If we’ve done it at least once before, that makes it a ‘tradition,’” So our friend Clint remarked, about the human tendency to see patterns and march along accordingly (a tendency of ours, to be sure).

But what if it’s happened TWICE, Clint? We are thinking of course of North Korea, this being the birthday of its leader Kim Jong-Il, thus the biggest celebration of the year there.

As we’ve described before here, February 16th is a huge human flower project in Pyongyang, as public spaces in the capital are swathed in the national flower “Kimjongilia,” a bright red begonia named for you-know-who. The begonia was a gift to the nation in 1988; we’d always heard that its breeding was commissioned by Kim Il-Sung, then the North Korean leader, to honor his beloved son and dictator-in-waiting.

Kim Il-Sung, too, had been honored with a flower, a purple orchid which was a gift from Indonesia’s president Sukarno in 1965. Ceremonial occasions in North Korea (well, the two leaders’ birthdays ARE the ceremonial occasions here) always feature huge displays of the two plants in bloom.

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Posted by Julie on 02/16 at 07:16 PM
Culture & SocietyPoliticsPermalink