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Begonia 'Kimjongilhwa'
Laika ac Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Exhibition House (7984388458).jpg
Cultivar groupTuberhybrida Group
Revised RomanizationGimjeongilhwa

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 body 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]


The flower has been cultivated to bloom around the Day of the Shining Star, Kim Jong Il's birthday, 16 February.[8] According to the Korean Central News Agency, a preservation agent had been developed that would allow the flower to keep in bloom for longer periods of time.[9]


A song composed by several North Korean composers, also called "Kimjongilia", was written about the flower:[10]

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. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. 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. Vol. 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. ^ Lankov, Andrey Nikolaevich (2007). North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea. McFarland. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-7864-2839-7. OCLC 1023223619.
  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. ^ Birthday of Kim Jong-Il. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary (Fourth ed.). Omnigraphics. 2010. Retrieved 13 January 2017 – via
  9. ^ "Agent for Preserving Kimjongilia Developed" Archived 2014-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, KCNA, October 21, 2008.
  10. ^ Lanʹkov, 2007, p. 22.

Further reading[edit]

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