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View more articles by Colin Zwirko
Colin Zwirko is an NK News correspondent based in Seoul.
North Korea has produced a stamp celebrating leader Kim Jong Un’s “lightning meeting” with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 30, featuring an image of the two standing in front of the inter-Korean border.
The release from the state-run Korea Stamp Corporation (KSC) follows another series of three stamps issued on June 12 marking the one-year anniversary of the two leaders’ first summit in Singapore, seen by some as an overture to the U.S. amid stalled talks.
The new stamp is now set to be released as North Korea has conducted missile or rocket launches on three occasions in eight days, while top U.S. officials remain upbeat on restarting working-level talks promised following the June 30 meeting in Panmunjom.
But while some new stamps are displayed in domestic-facing media like party daily the Rodong Sinmun, the Singapore summit anniversary stamp did not receive such attention in June, and it is yet to be seen if the newest will be for its official issue date on August 9.
Stamps commemorating the second Kim-Trump summit in Hanoi – where the two sides failed to reach a deal and where analysts consider Kim Jong Un to have left Vietnam disappointed – were never released.
While stamp releases are not considered an authoritative window into North Korea’s policy direction, the selectiveness of their content is nonetheless telling given the propaganda value placed on stamps by the DPRK government in recent times.
The description included with the latest stamp said Kim “had a lightning meeting with the US President Donald J. Trump at Panmunjom upon accepting Trump’s proposal.”
It also said the “DPRK-U.S. summit at Panmunjom has caused a stir all around the world while signaling a fresh start of the history of reconciliation and peace.”
A PDF order form for the stamp provided by the state-run Naenara website includes purchasing information with Chinese and Russian email addresses in addition to the KSC’s Pyongyang address.
Among Kim Jong Un’s other summits since early 2018, stamps were produced for his first with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April at Panmunjom as well as for Moon’s visit to Pyongyang in September, though no images of the leaders were included.
One was also issued in June featuring an image of Kim and Russian President Vladimir Putin shaking hands in their first summit in Vladivostok in April.
No stamp, however, appears to have been released commemorating the Cuban President’s visit to Pyongyang in November.
North Korean stamps have been considered collector’s items for decades, often attracting attention from hobbyist groups abroad.
The Korean Stamps Museum and gift shop in Pyongyang was also recently renovated, reopening in February to offer souvenirs to tourists but also to reinforce state propaganda in a similar fashion as displayed in other museums in the country.
The author of the series wrote that “stamps reflect the characteristic features of a country and its people, reflecting the social environment of the time and acting as a witness and recorder of history.”
And while it remains to be seen if the newest Kim-Trump summit stamp will receive wider attention beyond international collectors, the country’s stamps, as the author concluded in the article series, “will continue to be the witness of history.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Korea Stamp Corporation