The North Korean authorities have further burdened the people in northerly Yangkang Province, calling for plastic sheeting to improve greenhouses used to cultivate Kimjongilia flowers as air temperatures plummet.
A Yankang Province source told Daily NK yesterday, “Right after the sudden drop in temperatures to -20°C, an order came down stating, ‘Regulate the temperature in the greenhouses by covering them inside and out with plastic sheeting.’”
Thus, the source explained, “They are improving the greenhouses for the Kimjongilia, and are gathering 2,000 Won from each household to buy the plastic sheeting to do it. They have even created a Kimjongilia Festival Committee for the purpose of obtaining the materials.”
[imText1]North Korea annually welcomes the birthday of Kim Jong Il on February 16th with nationwide festivals of the Kimjongilia, a type of begonia that bears his name. However, the flowers cannot be grown in the harsh North Korean winter, and have to be raised in greenhouses regionally. In Hyesan, the capital of Yangkang Province, the greenhouses are located in the wooded area surrounding the Bocheonbo Victory Monument, which is itself clearly visible from China.
The Propaganda Department of the Provincial Party Committee is responsible for directing preparations for the region’s annual Kimjongilia Festival, while officials from enterprises affiliated with state organs and local Party secretaries have been marshaled to form the organizing committee, the source added, saying that organizing committee members are keen to emphasize that the festival will be used to assess “levels of loyalty to comrade Kim Jong Il” in order to induce allegiance to the cause from factories, enterprises, people’s units and the Union of Democratic Women.
Naturally, given that since Kim Jong Il’s death on December 17th the North Korean authorities have already passed on the construction costs for memorials to Kim Jong Il to the people, the added costs imposed by the cultivation of Kimjongilia are reportedly proving hard for some to cope with.
“Children say they have to give plastic sheeting to their schools and are pestering their parents for it, so the price of the sheeting in the jangmadang has risen by about three times,” the source explained, adding that in his local market the price of a meter of Chinese-made sheeting has now reached 6,000 North Korean Won/m.
Some schools are also reportedly calling on students to cultivate Kimjongilia at home, placing parents under twin burdens and creating further discontent, not to mention no small degree of incredulity. “In weather this cold, how exactly are children supposed to make flowers bloom?” families are reportedly asking.
“They’re going to take the skin off the common people’s backs this year with this kind of thing,” the source added.