On the morning of April 18, 1984 Kim Jong Il was looking round the newly-built Hamhung Grand Theatre.
He halted at the door into the lounge on the second floor.
The officials in his company looked at him with a puzzled expression.
Studying the aluminium door for a while, he asked where it was made. He was told that it was made in the province and its quality had to be improved.
He advised that as the theatre was a national treasure of lasting significance, it should be furnished with good wooden doors.
After looking round some other rooms, he reiterated that all the aluminium doors should be replaced with those made of quality timber because the aluminium doors were not appropriate for the theatre and their quality was low.
He continued that as it was a theatre for the people, it should be furnished in a superb fashion, adding that the doors in it should be made of mahogany or other quality timber imported from a foreign country.
He asked the wide-eyed officials how many doors there were in the theatre.
“The doors for frequent use total about 40,” answered one of them.
Kim Jong Il repeated the number to himself and said that all of them should be replaced with those made of mahogany and other quality timber.
Mahogany occurs only in some forests of the tropical region.
Since olden times this quality timber has been used to make furniture for palaces and mansions. The price is so exorbitant that it has rarely been used for doors and other ordinary furniture.
An official advised against the use of the expensive timber.
Kim Jong Il smiled and asked him the total sum.
It was so great that the official held back from telling it.
With a composed look, the General urged him on, saying that he would take measures himself.
Now the official spoke it out but, still unperturbed, Kim Jong Il said, “Is that so? All right. I will resolve the problem.”
Later, the theatre was furnished with mahogany doors.