On Traveling to the Hermit Kingdom
Dennis Rodman might be making the news lately, but traveling to the DPRK (North Korea) is nothing new. I often get asked why I would go to such a country, what's it like, why have I gone back, among many other perfectly reasonable questions. Well, perhaps I'll answer that here eventually as I post more photos, but, let me ask you, where else in the world can you go to hear a cover of a-Ha's "Take On Me" played with accordions?? Seriously, check out the video.
Today's Photo - Flower Festival
I can't say that I've been to too many flower festivals, but I can definitely say I've never been to one quite like this! The Kimilsungia Kimjongilia Flower Festival is held every year in Pyongyang. The festival name is quite a mouthful, so what is it exactly? Back in April of 1965, President Kim Il Sung visited Indonesia and the Indonesian President Sukarno named a hybrid cultivar orchid after him, the Kimilsungia. The Kimjongilia, a hybrid cultivar of tuberous begonia, was named after President Kim Il Sung's son, General Kim Jong Il by a Japanese florist, Kamo Mototeru on Kim Jong Il's 46th birthday in February of 1988. Ok, glad we got those details out of the way.
There were some 30,000 potted plants on display for the festival that coincided with Eternal President Kim Il Sung's 100th birthday. The Kimilsungia typically has violet flowers, while the Kimjongilia blooms in red, however for the festival there were variations in a rainbow of colors. The displays were quite elaborate, and many were contributed by the embassies located in Pyongyang. There were displays for the Unha-3 rocket (and accompanying satellite!) as well as the Korean Worker's Party monument, among many others.
It was great seeing so many people walk through the festival. What really surprised me was that there were several families that had some simple digital cameras, taking photos. I even posed with some couple's two little girls!
North Korean girl poses next to a miniature of the Arch of Reunification (조국통일3대헌장기념탑) at the Kimilsungia Kimjongilia Flower Festival.