Tropical flowers blooming in a freezing climate

In 1964, Bund, an Indonesian botanist, created a new orchid. A year later, President Soekarno decided to use the new flower to please foreign guests-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. Sukarno offered the flower to Kim Il Sung and suggested that the orchid be named after the guest. Kim Il Sung cares about the idea. (Andrey Lankov, North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea)

There is also a Kim Jong Il flower that is a counterpart of Kim Il Sung flower.

Kim Jong Il’s story was carefully thought out to include a counterpart to Kim Il Sung’s story. This time the flower came from Japan. It was grown by a botanist named Kamo Mototeru from Begonia in South America over 25 years. He gave the flower to the 46th birthday of “Dear Leader” as a sign of “Friendship and Goodwill between Korea and Japan”. (Ibid.)

But growing the tropical flowers in the cold climate of North Korea required special facilities.

Of course, the pandemic was heavily subsidized by the government. The Korean Peninsula is not the best natural environment for tropical orchids. In 1979, the Central Botanical Garden in Pyongyang built a special greenhouse for growing Kim Il Sung flowers. Initially, the greenhouse was 600 square meters in size, but was expanded to 1500 square meters in the 1980’s. Similar greenhouses were built nationwide. (Ibid.)
A special group of scholars and staff from the Central Botanical Garden was formed to grow and spread the flowers, and a 1,500-square-meter modern greenhouse was built and expanded in a short period of time, February 1990 Around 10,000 seedlings have already been given to ministries and other botanical gardens. (Alexander Zhebin, “The Kim Dynasty I See,”)

Growing these flowers was expensive and indirectly killed many residents.

In countries with freezing temperatures, tropical flowers are unlikely to bloom, but economic difficulties have not seemed to affect the spread of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il flowers. In fact, the greenhouses where Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il flowers were grown were considered important, and hot water and electricity were generously allocated during the famine, even though the energy supply was almost completely disrupted. Indonesian orchids and Japanese begonias have survived, although many may have died. (Lankov, op.cit.)