(TheRedWire.com) – One of North Korean President Kim Jong-un’s functions seems to be to remind the free world that dictators tend to be monsters. Kim, known for his unforgiving nature, sentenced a group of gardeners tasked with caring for a specific flower to six months in a labor camp when the plant failed to bloom in time.
The Kimjongilia Begonia is named after Kim’s father, Kim Jong-il. The dictator intended the floral display to be the focal point of the country’s “Shining Star” celebration to commemorate his father’s birthday. Unfortunately for them, the gardeners reported the flowers would not bloom in time for the February 16 festivities.
The variety of begonia is temperamental, and North Korea has had to import plants from China in the past when growing efforts failed.
A Special Flower
Kimjongilia Begonias first made their appearance on Kim Jong-il’s birthday in 1988 after being genetically engineered by Japanese botanist Mototeru Kamo. Known to North Koreans as “The Immortal Flower,” it grows in greenhouses across the country, but can be challenging to cultivate.
The Kimjongunia Begonia, similar in appearance and named for the current North Korean president, grows in the same greenhouses and presents the same difficulties.
Beyond The Gardener’s Control
According to reports, the head gardener in charge of cultivating the flowers was candid at a party meeting about the flowers not being ready in time. Voicing his concerns resulted in his arrest and a sentence of six months at hard labor for his troubles.
The delicate plants require precise temperature and humidity control. Unfortunately, reports indicate firewood shortages throughout the Hermit Kingdom left all gardeners with the same blooming problems.
The government met the horticulturist’s concerns and objections to an unreasonable timeline with cruelty and punished a crime nobody committed.
Plenty of Blame to Go Around
Dictators who remain in power do certain things well — they spread fear. One way they do this is by extending the blame not just to one but to several people for mundane “crimes,” like failing to force a flower to bloom on an unnatural schedule. They extend the blame and the penalties, too.
In this case, the state jailed the lead botanist, named Han, and a man named Choi, who received a three-month sentence in a labor camp because he was responsible for the temperature and humidity in the failed greenhouse.
North Korea has no appeals process. The gardener will pay the price, his family will struggle without him, and in six months, if he survives, he’ll return to work and hope it goes better next year.
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