SEOUL, April 14 (UPI) — Kim Il Sung’s birthday is an occasion for North Korea’s emerging class of entrepreneurs, a source on North Korea said.
The founder of North Korea would’ve turned 104 on Friday, a day to be marked with nationwide ceremonies.
North Koreans usually place flowers as offerings at Kim Il Sung memorials around the country.
But the national commemoration is also an opportunity for ordinary North Koreans to make “significant” sums of money, Daily NK reported Thursday.
Since the famine of the late 1990s, North Koreans have moved steadily toward unofficial marketization, and private entrepreneurs have taken to the streets to sell flowers, a source told Daily NK.
The sellers can be seen on the streets or at the entryway of gray markets selling real and paper flowers, the source said.
There’s a greater supply of paper flowers because of higher demand.
North Koreans are opting for the paper flowers because they are cheaper. Nowadays they are less likely to feel genuine reverence for the late Kim than in the past, when the food distribution system was more fully functional, the source said.
But flower merchants are making “a ton of money” ahead of the occasion, according to the source.
The flowers are a required offering for 10 million North Koreans, a segment of the population that excludes “children, the elderly and the penniless,” which means total sales could reach as high as $1.2 million.
North Korea’s state media is taking the anniversary celebrations as an opportunity to bolster support for Kim Jong Un.
Pyongyang’s Korean Central TV aired footage of Kim Yong Nam, the president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, paying tribute to the late Kim as an “outstanding leader.”
His birthday is steeped in meaning for the Korean people, the North Korean politician said.