Friday, October 15, 2010

North Korean Iconography: A Kimjongunia would smell as sweet

October 14, 2010

Sometimes there are Kimilsungia exhibitions. Sometimes there are Kimjongilia ones. Citizens of Pyongyang are also treated to combined Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia shows. One such got underway at the beginning of this month, at the Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Exhibition House: innumerable pots filled with the same two kinds of plant, a monotony alleviated only by a guide’s prediction that North Korea will one day get a third variety.

Kim Jong Il has resisted his late father Kim Il Sung’s predilection for studding North Korea with statues of himself (Pyongyang’s first of Kim Jong Il was reportedly unveiled earlier this year, 16 years after he succeeded his father as North Korea’s leader). Instead, Kim Jong Il says it with flowers. Foreign correspondents invited in for celebrations of the ruling party’s 65th birthday on October 10th saw them everywhere: on billboards, on huge digital screens erected for the festivities on Kim Il Sung Square, in a cascading display in the hotel lobby and in endless profusion at the exhibition (along with huge portraits of the two Kims).