Commemorative Names and Diplomatic Bridges: Begonia ‘Kimjongilia’ Turns 30

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On a mural in Pyongyang, Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il enjoy a garden setting. Photo by Michael Day, Creative Commons by 2.0
On a mural in Pyongyang, Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il enjoy a garden setting. Photo by Michael Day, Creative Commons by 2.0

Long known as “The Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il was from 1980 a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Workers’ Party of Korea, from 1991 the Supreme Commander of the People’s Army, and from 1993 Chairman of the National Defense Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea until he died in 2011. That’s an assortment of important names, isn’t it?

From February 1988, added to this array was a new variety of begonia to reflect them, ‘Kimjongilhwa.’

In the second act of a play you might have seen or read, Juliet Capulet asks her boyfriend, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other word would smell as sweet.” Although they can be arbitrary or intentional, there is much to a name indeed. Read more

Winter Sweetness for the Eyes and the Nose

a Basket of Winter Flowers, painting on silk by Li Song (1166-1243)
Basket of Winter Flowers, painting on silk
Li Song (1166-1243)

The realism allows each plant to be identified. What we see is a rattan basket filled with some of the earliest flowers of the year. From left, they are (top) Chinese winter-flowering plum with green calyx, (bottom) narcissus, camellia, wintersweet, and daphne. Once plum blossoms have been open for a while, the calyx changes to red, so this state indicates the freshest and first flowers to be produced. What the picture can’t show you is the fragrance Read more