Kim Jong-Un Wants to Create the World's Most Powerful Mushroom Kingdom

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When he isn't tending his fledgling bromance with Dennis Rodman or proclaiming that North Korea's enemies will soon bathe in the flames of nuclear war, Kim Jong-Un has to do things like keep a nation, which has every right not to be, jazzed and excited—hence his smiley visit to Mushroom Farm No. 1116 this week. The visit was documented by the country's top state-run news sites and yielded some of the best pictures of Kim to date, like this keeper: 

Look at how happy he (that's Kim right?) is next to all that fungi. Kim also met the all-female crew at farm no. 1116, who treated him like a member of One Direction: 

But there also was serious business too, and he observed workers in hazmat suits (?) deal with the mushrooms: 

 "The mushroom cultivation grounds look very nice and I am pleased to see them," Kim said, telling the state-run Korean Central News Agency that he was impressed with the introduction of the latest mushroom-production technology.

Applauding the efforts of the country's mushroom production is a bit of a drop-off from the advances North Korea has celebrated in recent months. For example, this past December saw a cigarette-smoking Kim Jong-Un looking all satisfied when North Korea launched its rocket into space, and in February, the country honored its nuclear scientists.

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Mushrooms apparently are very important in North Korea. Becoming a mushroom powerhouse is actually the wish of Kim's grandfather, Kim Il-Sung. " He [Kim] said that it is necessary to thoroughly implement the behest of President Kim Il Sung, who called for turning the country into a world famous mushroom producer by building such mushroom farms in different parts of the country," KCNA reported. Unfortunately for those wishes, North Korea isn't even mentioned among the world's top producers of edible mushroom (China is tops and the U.S. is second).

But there are selfish reasons for pushing the fungus: mushroom profits were used in Kim Jong-Il's slush fund, the Chosun Ilbo reported in 2010. You didn't think the mushrooms would actually be used to, say, feed the country's starving citizens, did you?


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.