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North Korea cancels annual anti-US rally for first time in years

North Koreans celebrate “Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War" in Pyongyang. (CNBC International/Twitter)
June 25, 2018

In a sign of improving relations with the United States, North Korea has decided to cancel an annual “anti-U.S. imperialism” rally this year.

The rally served as one of North Korea’s most symbolic and political events, held annually on July 27 in remembrance of the start of the Korean War. North Korea historically celebrated the day as a national holiday called “Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War.”

The rally included events focused on the Korean War, complete with nationalist fervor and anti-U.S. postage stamps.

Last year’s event included a reported 100,000 attendees in Kim Il Sung Square, according to the Associated Press.

North Korean officials made no public comments regarding the decision to cancel this year’s event. However, Associated Press staff inside the North Korean capital confirmed Monday that the rally would not be held this year.

Over the past several months, North Korea toned down its rhetoric against Washington to align with coordinated attempts to reduce tensions and improve dialogue in preparation for peace talks at the recent June 12 summit in Singapore.

After the summit, North Korean state media was filled with reports, photos and videos of President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. A 42-minute documentary news special recapping the events of the summit was also aired, and has frequently repeated since.

North Korea’s less aggressive demeanor reflects the delicate position it’s in after decades of declaring the U.S. an enemy.

References to the President and other U.S. officials have also had noticeable changes in North Korean media.

Reports of the summit included President Trump’s full name and official title, in stark contrast from their typical reporting of surnames with no titles.

Although North Korea has not yet discussed denuclearization plans, it has expressed fewer references to needing nuclear weapons compared to last year, when testing long-range missiles.

Despite the change in tone concerning the U.S. and its officials, anti-American propaganda remains a substantial component in North Korean schools and educational curriculum. It’s unclear whether or not Kim Jong Un plans to change this.

Last week, President Trump announced that North Korea plans to return the remains of up to 200 U.S. or allied service members missing in North Korea since the Korean War.

Pentagon chief spokesperson Dana White announced Friday that the U.S. would “indefinitely suspend” two training exercises with South Korea in light of productive diplomatic negotiations, The Hill also reported.

The Pentagon also announced that it had suspended planning for its annual “war games” with the South Korean military.

President Trump said: “We will stop the war games, which will save us a tremendous amount of money, unless and until we see the future negotiations is not going along like it should.”