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For the documentary film, see Kimjongilia (film).
Begonia 'Kimjongilhwa'
Laika ac Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Exhibition House (7984388458).jpg
Genus Begonia
Cultivar group Tuberhybrida Group
Cultivar 'Kimjongilhwa'
Revised Romanization Gimjeongilhwa
McCune–Reischauer Kimjŏngirhwa

Kimjongilia is a flower named after the late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. It is a hybrid cultivar of tuberous begonia, registered as Begonia × tuberhybrida 'Kimjongilhwa'.[1] When Kim Jong-il died in December 2011 the flower was used to adorn his corpse for public display.[2] Despite its name, the Kimjongilia is not the official national flower of North Korea,[3] which is the Magnolia sieboldii.[4] Another flower, Kimilsungia, is an orchid cultivar named after Kim Jong-il's father and predecessor, Kim Il-sung.[3]


To commemorate Kim Jong-il's 46th birthday in 1988, Japanese botanist Kamo Mototeru cultivated a new perennial begonia named "kimjongilia" (literally, "flower of Kim Jong-il"), representing the Juche revolutionary cause of the Dear Leader.[5] It was presented as a "token of friendship between Korea and Japan".[6] The flower symbolizes wisdom, love, justice and peace. It is designed to bloom every year on Kim Jong-il's birthday, February 16.[7]


On October 21, 2008, the Korean Central News Agency announced a preservation agent had been developed that would allow the flower to keep in bloom for longer periods of time.[8]


A song composed by several North Korean composers, also called "Kimjongilia", was written about the flower:[9]

The red flowers that are blossoming over our land
Are like hearts: full of love for the leader
Our hearts follow the young buds of Kimjongilia
Oh! The flower of our loyalty!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ABS Registered Begonias (G - O)". American Begonia Society. Retrieved 27 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Succession in North Korea: Grief and fear", The Economist, December 31, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Minahan, James (2010). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems. 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-313-34497-8. 
  4. ^ Lim, Reuben C. J. (29 June 2013). "Floral Emblems of the world". Australian National Herbarium. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  5. ^ Chong, Bong-uk (1998). A Handbook on North Korea. Naewoe Press. p. 101. 
  6. ^ Lanʹkov, Andreĭ Nikolaevich (2007). North of the DMZ: essays on daily life in North Korea. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7864-2839-7. 
  7. ^ Ford, Glyn; Kwon, Soyoung (2008). North Korea on the brink: struggle for survival. Pluto Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-7453-2598-9. 
  8. ^ "Agent for Preserving Kimjongilia Developed", KCNA, October 21, 2008.
  9. ^ Lanʹkov, 2007, p. 22.

Further reading[edit]

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