‘In five years working in North Korea, I’ve never seen them completely disappear before’
Western tour operators speaking with Reuters say anti-American souvenirs have been taken off the shelves of gift shops on the North Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone.
According to Simon Cockerell, general manager at Koryo Tours, items such as stamps and postcards bearing hostile messages regarding the U.S. are no longer available.
“They’re always very popular, not very subtle, and, as of now, have all been removed,” Cockerell said.
Rowan Beard, a tour manager at Young Pioneer Tours, described the change as the most significant shift he’s seen at the border.
“In five years working in North Korea, I’ve never seen them completely disappear before,” Beard said.
The guide added that the change appeared to be abruptly made shortly after the U.S.-North Korean summit.
“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,” Beard said. “They’ve shifted the focus from anti-Americanism to improving agriculture, sports and boosting the local economy.”
Aside from small gifts alongside the heavily fortified border, once prominent anti-American propaganda posters in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have also vanished.
As reported last month by NK News, both anti-American and pro-nuclear content has been replaced with messages regarding domestic issues.
“Of 103 photos of propaganda messages taken throughout Pyongyang and neighboring provinces this April, just two were anti-U.S. in nature and only two promoted nuclear weapons or missile capabilities,” NK News’ Chad O’Carroll writes.
Beard made similar observations post-summit on the topics mentioned on North Korea’s government posters.
“It’s not just at the DMZ, all the anti-American posters I usually see around Kim Il Sung Square and at shops (in Pyongyang), they’ve all just gone,” Beard said.
The changes come as Washington and Pyongyang attempt to work towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.