December 06, 2023

The Flower of Unification: how a girl from the South became an icon in the North

Lim Su-kyung's 1989 Pyongyang visit shows how close, and yet how far apart, the two Koreas were and remain to this day

On July 1, 1989, North Korean leader Kim Il Sung delivered his opening remarks at the newly-constructed May Day Stadium in Pyongyang for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students. The stadium was packed with fellow North Koreans and Festival attendees from abroad.

But despite the presence of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and guests from abroad including Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, it was a previously-unknown girl from South Korea who would really steal the show.