January 23, 2021

In Tumen, hawkers find N.Korean leader pins a tough sell

Traders suspect Pyongyang cracking down on those seeking to profit off leaders' likenesses

TUMEN, China – Hawkers of North Korean souvenirs in this Chinese border town have been raising prices of official lapel pins depicting the Kim family, as fewer North Koreans trade them illicitly for cash, local businesspeople told NK News.

North Koreans are forced to wear the lapel pins, which feature images of the country’s founder Kim Il Sung and his successor Kim Jong Il, as an expression of devotion to the regime. But in Tumen, the local traders who buy the pins from visiting North Korean officials have long sold them as kitsch tourist items – along with North Korean money, cigarettes and alcohol.