Two Pine-nut Trees

It was in the afternoon of October 10, 1950, during the Korean war. The Korean People’s Army was on its strategic retreat.

Young Kim Jong Il said to some officials that he would like to plant a tree on a sunny foothill near his lodgings to mark the anniversary of the day when Kim Il Sung founded the Workers’ Party of Korea. Then, together with his younger sister, he chose two young pine-nut trees and started digging.

The officials helped him to lift the trees, taking care to keep the roots undamaged, and prepared to plant them.

Kim Jong Il and his sister began digging holes for the trees, despite the officials offering to do it. Kim Jong Il continued to work, saying that the holes should be dug deep enough.

After a while he told his sister that they should plant a tree each, and with the officials’ help, moved the trees near the holes.

His younger sister asked him if the pine-nut tree was a good species.

He answered:

It’s a good tree. It’s an evergreen. It is not afraid of severe snowstorms in winter. When autumn comes around, the leaves of other trees fall off, but the pine-nut tree keeps its leaves green and fresh. And it bears a lot of nuts. Now these pine-nut trees are little, but if we water them every day and tend them carefully, they will grow tall and bear many nuts. Then, let’s come here again together with our father. He will be very happy to see the trees we planted.

The following day he said to an official who was about to set out for the Supreme Headquarters:

Although the Americans are running wild to conquer us, they will never succeed. If they burn one tree, we must plant ten, even a hundred trees to make our mountains and fields greener. By the time these two young trees have grown tall, our country will be the wealthiest in the world.

He was only eight years old in those grim times; yet he planted the trees with a firm conviction in victory.