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Kim Jong-un has reportedly sent a group of gardeners to labour camps because their flowers failed to bloom in time.
The North Korean dictator is said to have taken the decision after being informed that the 'Kimjongilia' Begonias - a flower named after his late father Kim Jong-il - would not be ready to mark the former leader's birthday.
The flowers were set to be a centre piece for a huge celebration on 16 February, known as the Day of the Shining Star.
According to reports, a man in his 50s from Samsu County - identified as Han - was the manager of a greenhouse that grows Kimilsungias and Kimjongilias, and was sentenced to six months in a labour camp.
Kimjongilias, which are also known as the 'immortal flower', were created by Japanese botanist Kamo Mototeru to mark Jong-il’s birthday in 1988.
However, since his passing in 2011, the flower has become much more significant.
Last month, Han was ordered to make sure that the flowers were ready for a huge exhibition to mark both the Day of the Sun (a day to mark North Korea founder Kim Il-sung’s birthday) and the Day of the Shining Star.
In order to make sure that the special flowers are grown correctly, the temperature and humidity of the greenhouse has to be monitored carefully.
However, due to a lack of firewood, this wasn't possible and they failed to bloom in time, and the gardeners were subsequently accused of neglecting the flowers and punished.
A source told Daily NK News: "Economic activity greatly decreased due to the strengthening of the country's emergency disease-control measures, which led many Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia greenhouses to become neglected.
"But now they're suddenly saying that the Kimjongilia flowers have to be grown in time for the event, so how is Han supposed to grow them?"
The source went on: "Other employees have been punished.
"A flower grower surnamed Kim [in her 40s] was called in every day to the county party committee to report on the state of the flowers and to write self-criticism reports."
A man known as Choi, who was in charge of the greenhouse boilers, was also sentenced to three months in the labour camps for not 'properly setting the temperature'.
Difficulties growing both Kimilsungias and Kimjongilias are not new and they are often imported from China as a result.
Last year, rumours began circulating regarding Jong-un's health after footage emerged of him looking much slimmer than usual.
At the time, government officials claimed the ruler lost weight as a result of worrying about his people and their ongoing food shortages, which have been blamed on the pandemic – while wilder theories speculated that he was using a body double.
But experts believe there may be another explanation for the Supreme Leader’s new svelte frame, saying he just simply can’t get some of his favourite snacks anymore.
Speaking to Metro, North Korea expert Dr. Sojin Lim said: “We know that he has good sources, he enjoys cheese, he’s a heavy drinker, he has access to all junk foods.
“But because of these border closures the way he brings all these foods into North Korea will have been cut. So he doesn’t have the same variety anymore.”
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