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Genus Dendrobium
Cultivar Dendrobium Clara Bundt gx 'Kimilsungia'
Revised Romanization Gimilseonghwa
McCune–Reischauer Kimilsŏnghwa

Kimilsungia is a hybrid orchid of the genus Dendrobium, which only in North Korea is known as Kimilsungia.[1] It is a clone of a plant that was created in Indonesia by orchid breeder C. L. Bundt, who in 1964 registered the grex name Dendrobium Clara Bundt for all orchids of the same ancestry, naming it after his daughter. It has a complex ancestry from cultivated orchids.[1] An attempt was made to register the grex name Dendrobium Kimilsungia, but this is not valid, it is a later synonym of Dendrobium Clara Bundt.[1] As a cultivar name (applying to only part of the grex), the correct name would be Dendrobium Clara Bundt 'Kimilsungia'.[1] Another grex name Dendrobium Kimilsung Flower refers to plants of related but different ancestry.[1]

Another flower, the Kimjongilia, is named after Kim Il-sung's son, Kim Jong-il. Neither the Kimilsungia nor the Kimjongilia are the national flower of North Korea. The national flower of the country is the Magnolia sieboldii with white flowers.[2] The Kimilsungia violet orchid has become an integral part of the ever-present state-sponsored propaganda that surrounds the late leader.[3]

According to the Korean Central News Agency, Kim Il-sung's "peerless character" is "fully reflected in the immortal flower" which is "blooming everywhere on the five continents".[4]


According to the Pyongyang-published book Korea in the 20th Century: 100 Significant Events, Kim Il-sung travelled to Indonesia to meet with his counterpart, Sukarno.[3] Kim was taken on a tour of the Bogor Botanical Garden, where:

He stopped before a particular flower, its stem stretching straight, its leaves spreading fair, giving a cool appearance, and its pink blossoms showing off their elegance and preciousness; he said the plant looked lovely, speaking highly of the success in raising it. Sukarno said that the plant had not yet been named, and that he would name it after Kim Il Sung. Kim Il Sung declined his offer, but Sukarno insisted earnestly that respected Kim Il Sung was entitled to such a great honour, for he had already performed great exploits for the benefit of mankind.


The plant grows 30 to 70 centimetres (12–28 in) high. Its leaves adhere to the nodes alternatively and each stalk yields 3-15 flowers. The flowers have three petals and three calyxes and measure 6 to 8 centimetres (2.4–3.1 in). It blooms for 60–90 days. It grows best in daylight temperatures of 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F) and 18 to 23 °C (64 to 73 °F) at night.[5]

Annual festivals[edit]

Kimilsungia flower shows are held every year in Pyongyang. Traditionally, embassies of foreign countries in North Korea each present their own bouquet of the flower to the annual exhibition.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Soediono, Noes, Arditti, Joseph and Soediono, Rubismo. Kimilsungia: How an Indonesian Orchid Became a Revered Symbol in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea After Its Name was Changed. Plant Science Bulletin 75 3 pp. 103-113
  2. ^ Korea Today Monthly Journal (issue 627, September 2008), cover inset
  3. ^ a b Jill Reilly (18 April 2012). "Here's us with the Kims: North Koreans flock in their thousands to celebrate 100th anniversary of founding father's birth... with a happy snap in front of massive portrait". Daily Mail Online. Retrieved 6 June 2013. 
  4. ^ 4th Kimilsungia Show to be held in Pyongyang. Korean Central News Agency. March 21, 2002.
  5. ^ Hwan Ju, Pang (1998). "Kimilsungia". Kimjongilia. Pyongyang, North Korea: Foreign Languages Publishing House. p. 8. 
  6. ^ Ford, Glyn; Kwon, Soyoung (2008). North Korea on the brink: struggle for survival. Pluto Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-7453-2598-9. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]