In another sign of detente following the summit between leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, North Korea has decided to skip one of the most symbolic and politically charged events of its calendar: the annual “anti-U.S. imperialism” rally marking the start of the Korean War.
Fist-pumping, flag-waving and slogan-shouting masses of Pyongyang residents normally assemble each year, culminating on July 27, for the rally to kick off a month of anti-U.S., Korean War-focused events designed to strengthen nationalism and unity. Last year’s event was attended by a reported 100,000 people. North Korea even issued special anti-U.S. postage stamps.
Associated Press staff in the North Korean capital confirmed Monday that it would not be held this year.
North Korea has noticeably toned down its anti-Washington rhetoric over the past several months to create a more conciliatory atmosphere. Then North Korea’s state media were filled with reports, photos and video of the June 12 meeting between Trump and Kim in Singapore.
A 42-minute documentary-style news special was aired on the state television network two days after the summit and has been repeated frequently since, meaning that by now there are probably few North Koreans who are unaware of the changes in the air.
North Korea’s decidedly less strident posture these days underscores the delicate position it finds itself in after decades of touting the United States as its archenemy. The 1950-53 Korean War, and the devastation the country suffered at the hands of the U.S. and its allies, remain a major part of every North Korean’s education.