Anti-US vitriol absent during armistice anniversary

North Korea held events nationwide to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice Agreement, marking the end of the Korean War in 1953. Sources in the country report that in contrast to last year, there was no widespread encouragement of hatred toward the US this time, perhaps because due to the changing atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula.

“North Korea does not hold major events to celebrate the signing of the Armistice Agreement, but has focused on sowing hatred toward the US through gifts, interviews and nationwide visits to the homes of Korean War veterans,” said a North Hamgyong Province-based source on July 27. “The atmosphere this year, however, was different. The veterans talked more about loyalty to the Suryong [Supreme Leader] and motherland than hatred toward the US.”

“Last week, interviews were held by various local institutions and organizations with war veterans,” said the source, adding that with an emphasis on loyalty to the regime “they said that the motherland must survive in order for their families to survive.”

“Last year ‘denunciation meetings’ against the US and visits to Anti-American Class Education Centers [located in each region] were organized,” a source in Ryanggang Province added.

“No one had any energy to walk after the denunciation meetings, which lasted around two hours under the hot sun. This year, everyone was happy because these events were not held.”

Both sources said that there were also posters in their respective regions with slogans criticizing the US nationwide during the “month commemorating the struggle against the US,” but these slogans were taken down in early April this year.

Residents were not required to attend “denunciation lectures” at anti-American education centers like the one above following the US-North Korea summit. Image: Daily NK

“There are no more posters with anti-American slogans and no lectures that focus on encouraging anti-American sentiment,” the Ryanggang Province-based source explained.

The North Korean authorities have designated June 25 to July 27 [the date of the start of the Korean War and the date of the signing of the Armistice Agreement] as a “month commemorating the joint struggle against America” each year to encourage hatred of America among the populace. After the US-DPRK summit this June, however, the country has been avoiding direct criticism of the US.

The Rodong Sinmun (Party-run publication) has also refrained from criticism of the US over the Korean War, while publishing an article with 37 photos of Kim Jong Un’s participation in the 5th National Veterans Rally. Last year, the paper took a very different stance, declaring, “July 27 is the second liberation day where [North Korea] proudly protected the holy motherland from the robber baron American imperialist invasion, and a day of proud victory that put the American imperialists, who had claimed status as a superpower, on the road to collapse.”

Ration supplies to veterans were also increased as compared to last year. “The amount of sugar cookies, flour, cooking oil and pork was nearly doubled compared to last year […] Those veterans who lived in the provinces and were healthy enough to travel attended the Veterans Rally in Pyongyang,” the North Hamgyong Province-based source said.