Many North Koreans were surprised to find that a recently published North Korean calendar omitted the images of the Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia, two flowers traditionally used to mark the birthdays of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Most North Korean publishing companies have printed images of a Kimjongilia on their February pages to mark Kim Jong Il’s birthday and, on their April pages, a Kimilsungia to mark Kim Il Sung’s birthday.
“February and April are usually accompanied by Kimjongilias, Kimilsuingias, or yellow rhododendrons from Mount Paektu, but none of these are anywhere to be seen in this year’s calendar,” a source told Daily NK. “Many people were surprised that the publishing company [the Korea Publications Export Import Corporation] used a pink rose and the words ‘propose’ in English on the February page instead.”
“The publishing company may have thought it better to include the image of flower that is popular among the public rather than one used for regime propaganda,” added the source. “That may suggest they are sensitive to criticisms from abroad about exaggerated idolization of the regime’s leaders.”
A SHIFT AWAY FROM PROPAGANDA-LADEN IMAGES?
Last year’s Foreign Languages Publishing House calendar displayed a photograph of an Kimjungilia for February and a Kimilsungia for April. In landscape calendars printed by all North Korea’s publishing companies, February featured a photograph of Mt. Paektu, and April featured a photograph of Mangyongdae, the supposed birthplace of Kim Il Sung.
But in the 2020 flower calendar obtained by Daily NK, none of the photographs printed can be linked to traditional regime propaganda. Instead, the calendar just listed the names of the various rose varieties featured in the calendar, such as “Mount Shasta”, “Asagumo,” and “Propose.”
According to the calendar, around 200 rose varieties—including around 60 breeds gifted to the Kim family by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan and other countries—are cultivated in North Korea.
The calendar also has “2020” on each page, something unseen in past calendars.
MORE HOLIDAYS FOR NORTH KOREANS IN 2020
Also of note was that the calendar has 66 holidays marked in red—one less holiday than last year. This is presumably due to state and traditional holidays such as Kim Jong Il’s birthday and the “Great Moon Festival” falling on Sundays.
Mother’s Day (Nov. 16), which was not listed as a holiday last year, was marked as a public holiday this year.
However, North Korea takes three days off for both New Year’s and Lunar New Year’s, which means North Koreans will have at least 70 days off in 2020.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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