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North Korea

White House souvenir coin for Singapore ‘peace talks’ features Trump and Kim … and Twitter users are having a good chin wag

Some on social media seemed to think the coin did not depict Kim Jong-un in a particularly flattering light

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 11:09am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2018, 9:53pm

Stony faced, US President Donald Trump stares down a smiling Kim Jong-un in a high-stakes scene, unfolding entirely on the surface of a coin.

The commemorative piece was minted by the White House Military Office, which typically designs coins for Trump’s trips abroad, before an expected summit between the two leaders in Singapore on June 12.

The coin describes the meeting as “peace talks”, in English and Korean.

It is only a small element of America’s recent rapprochement with North Korea but it appeared to gain a currency all its own on social media.

Some Twitter users seemed to think the coin did not depict Kim in a particularly flattering light. The posture of both leaders shows Trump leaning forward as Kim leans back accentuating his chins.

Trump’s neck and chin appears to be much firmer.

The coin also announces Kim’s title as “supreme leader”, despite there being no official position with that name in North Korea.

Kim is usually referred to as chairman of the state affairs commission in state media, while he is also chairman of the ruling party.

Some observers were worried the coin might send the wrong message.

In a statement, White House Communications Agency deputy spokesman Raj Shah insisted that “the White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin”.

The White House Communications Agency regularly issues commemorative or challenge coins to present to foreign guests, diplomats and members of the military.

A number of the coins are available for sale through the White House Gift Office.

Peace in Korea will rest on Koreans themselves – not Trump or Xi

“Since 2003, White House Communications Agency (WHCA) members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase,” Shah explained.

“These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer. These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced.”

The Singapore meeting would be the first summit between a sitting US president and the leader of North Korea, if it happens at all.

Trump has said repeatedly he might pull out, and that scenario became more likely last week as the two governments traded heated words.

US Vice-President Mike Pence also warned on Monday that the president was still willing to walk away from the meeting, telling Fox News that North Korea should not attempt to seek concessions for promises it did not intend to keep.

Trump has reportedly been focusing on the pageantry of the summit rather than immersing himself in detailed briefings on the complex issue of North Korea’s nuclear programme.

He has been particularly interested in suspense-filled announcements that could come out of the meeting, according to Associated Press.

The release of the coin comes ahead of a visit to Washington Tuesday by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who will meet with Trump.

Moon’s White House visit was originally arranged as a meeting to fine-tune a joint strategy for dealing with Kim but has instead become more of a crisis session after Pyongyang last week threatened to pull out of the planned summit in Singapore.

The Guardian, Agence France-Presse, Reuters