North Korean Gift Shops Toss Anti-American Souvenirs After Singapore Summit

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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In the wake of the historic summit in Singapore, North Korean gift shops near the DMZ have reportedly stopped selling anti-American souvenirs.

The shops used to sell a variety of souvenirs and trinkets critical of the United States, but these items have reportedly disappeared. “They are always very popular, not very subtle, and, as of now, have all been removed,” the general manager of Koryo Tours explained to Reuters, adding that it would be unusual for the staff to remove any items without instruction.

The anti-American items had been “replaced by items more focused on positive themes such as reunification rather than the often violent anti-U.S. images,” the manager told NK News.

A tour manager with Young Pioneer Tours also noted the change. “We had a group go down to the DMZ from Pyongyang three days after the summit held in Singapore where we noticed the change in what was being sold to tourists at the gift shop,” he said. “They’ve shifted the focus from anti-Americanism to improving agriculture, sports and boosting the local economy.”

President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an unprecedented summit in Singapore on June 12. The meeting marked the first time a sitting U.S. president has sat down with a North Korean dictator. During the summit, Trump and Kim signed an agreement intended to lay the groundwork for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and improve bilateral relations between the U.S. and North Korea. (RELATED: President Trump And Kim Jong Un Meet For The First Time At Singapore Summit)

Foreign travelers who visited North Korea noticed that anti-American posters — once prolific — had vanished in the months leading up to the Singapore summit. Only two out of 103 photos of propaganda posters in Pyongyang taken in April featured anti-American sentiments, NK News reported in May, adding that sources inside North Korea had confirmed the disappearance of hostile propaganda.

The new posters reportedly promoted “increased industrial production, scientific achievement and economic self-reliance.”

The tour manager from YPT suggested the removal of anti-American materials “may be the start of a real softening of rhetoric.” The two published foreign ministry statements that nearly derailed the Trump-Kim summit aside, North Korean state media has tamped down the belligerent rhetoric and dramatically limited its criticisms of the U.S.

The recent summit might have fallen short of some of the administration’s earlier expectations, but it appears to have significantly reduced tensions between North Korea and the U.S., a welcome change from 2017 when the threat of nuclear war loomed large over the Korean Peninsula.

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