Murals, banners and posters displayed throughout the capital, Pyongyang, have for decades depicted the U.S. as a brutal, imperialist aggressor hell-bent on destroying the North Korean regime. South Korea and Japan were also frequently targeted as willing allies of the U.S.
But things started to take an Orwellian turn in the run-up to Kim’s June 12 summit with President Donald Trump, with the old posters vanishing since then.
“All the anti-American posters I usually see around Kim Il-sung Square and at shops, they’ve all just gone,” Rowan Beard, a tour manager at Young Pioneer Tours, told Reuters. “In five years working in North Korea, I’ve never seen them completely disappear before.”
Inheriting a repressive regime during a global revolution in communications technology put Kim Jong-un in a difficult spot. Keeping the people who live in his country entirely isolated could only last so much longer, yet loosening controls means letting in the truth to the masses whom his family has brutally repressed for generations while creating an opportunity for some lesser dictator to execute a coup and claim credit for a minor improvement in living standards.
The combined wealth of the United States, China, and South Korea, however, could provide quite a period of rapid improvement to ease the peninsula back toward some sort of reunification, with enough of a boost maybe (maybe) to rocket people’s gratitude and relief past their resentment and enough protection to keep ambitious underlings from seeing an opportunity. This is all speculation, of course, but it actually isn’t that hard to believe that a dictator would be willing to exchange total (but precarious) control of a hellhole for untold wealth and perhaps credit as a national savior if foreign money and cooperation can manage the flip.