It is 30 years since Kimjongilia, bred by Kamo Mototeru, a renowned Japanese floriculturist, appeared in the world. He presented the flower to Chairman Kim Jong Il on the occasion of the Chairman’s 46th birthday in February 1988.
Mototeru bred the flower of the tuberous begonia family through 20-odd-year-long painstaking efforts with a desire to breed a new variety of flower symbolizing the era. Kimjongilia is the most beautiful flower bright red as if to symbolize enthusiasm. He denominated the flower Kimjongilia as a reflection of his lifelong wish to name it after the august name of the greatest man produced by humankind and the aspiration of the time. When presenting the flower to Kim Jong Il as mentioned above, he sent to the Chairman a letter that reads in part,
I have the honour to write this letter in reverence and admiration for the great leader Your Excellency Kim Jong Il.
I respectfully want to present you with a tuberous begonia I have bred with sincerity, congratulating Your Excellency on your birthday and hoping for the friendly relations between Japan and the DPRK…. ““I am afraid it would be too much to name my plant after the august name of Your Excellency, but I dared to denominate it Kimjongilia, wishing you longevity and your country a bright future of prosperity and development.
If you allow me to present this plant to Your Excellency, it will be a greater honour to me than I deserve.
I sincerely wish Your Excellency Kim Jong Il a long life.
February 13, 1988
As soon as Kimjongilia appeared in the world, prominent political, social and academic figures in many countries of the world sent Korea letters reflecting their wish to grow the flower in their countries. It was recognized as the king of flowers while winning top prizes at international flower exhibitions and horticultural expositions, creating a great sensation. And then numerous bases propagating the flower appeared across the world, and over 100 rounds of Kimjongilia exhibitions were held. Amidst the growing enthusiasm for cultivating the flower decade after decade and century after century the flower has spread to over 70 countries.
In May 1991 Kimjongilia won the special prize and gold medal at the 12th International Flower Exhibition in Czechoslovakia while creating a great sensation among the visitors who referred to it as the most beautiful flower in the world and the symbol of loyalty and zeal. In 1995 a Kimjongilia association was organized in Sweden, the one aimed at spreading and giving publicity to the flower, and similar and amateur associations were formed in different countries and regions including Indonesia, Japan and Ethiopia. And Kimjongilia greenhouses were opened in succession there.
Now the cultivation and propagation of Kimjongilia is becoming an irresistible tendency of time. The press of 100-odd countries, including Russia, Cuba, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Congo, Guinea, Egypt, Peru, France, Romania and the UK, have given wide publicity to the story of how Kimjongilia came into being, its biological characteristics, and international comments on it under the titles such as “What Kind of Flower Is Kimjongilia?”, “Flower of Leader” and “Appearance of Juche Korea—Immortal Kimjongilia.”
In Egyptian newspaper reported that it was not merely because of its beauty that Kimjongilia was drawing the attention of all people, and that it was the manifestation of humankind’s boundless reverence for the leader Kim Jong Il praised as the first of the world’s greatest men.