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North Korea restarts anti-US propaganda day it stopped under Trump

Kim Jong Un overseeing North Korea's new tactical guided weapon system test in April 2022. (Korean Central News Agency/Released)
June 24, 2022

North Korea has restarted its June 25 “Day of Anti-U.S Struggle” celebrations, a day of anti-American messaging it had held annually but had paused during former President Donald Trump’s term.

North Korean media reports, which were translated and reshared by KCNA Watch, show the country opened up a new art exhibit on Wednesday ahead of the June 25 “day of struggle against U.S. imperialism.” Additional translated North Korean media reports described North Korean workers and trade union members meeting “to vow revenge on U.S. imperialism” in what appears to be a widespread return to these anti-U.S. celebrations.

According to the translated North Korean media reports, the new anti-U.S. art exhibit includes more than 70 artworks “dealing with the crime-woven history and brutal atrocities of the U.S. and Japanese imperialists and class enemies who inflicted untold misfortune and sufferings upon the Korean people.”

“The works disclose the atrocities of the U.S. imperialists who massacred patriots and innocent inhabitants in the most brutal and cruel ways during the period of the strategic temporary retreat of the past Fatherland Liberation War,” the North Korean media report added. “They reflect the heroic struggle of our army and people who mercilessly annihilated the U.S. imperialists and class enemies, and miserable plight of the aggressors.”

June 25 marks the anniversary of the start of the Korean War which lasted from 1950 to 1953. North Korea has traditionally marked that day with mass rallies and airings of grievances against the U.S. During the 2017 celebrations, North Korea issued commemorative stamps depicting the destruction of the U.S. government, the Washington Post reported.

In June of 2018, the Washington Post reported North Korea would forego its annual anti-U.S. “day of struggle.” This decision to forego the traditional anti-U.S. propaganda rallies and messaging came as the U.S. and North Korea had begun to ease tensions and begin discussions around the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. On June 12, 2018, President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, moving forward in this easing of tensions just days before North Korea would have begun its annual anti-U.S. celebrations for 2018.

The moratorium on these annual anti-U.S. celebrations appeared to hold through 2019 as denuclearization talks between Trump and Kim continued. Towards the later part of 2019, the peace talks between the U.S. and North Korea began to falter. By the summer of 2020, after the third year in a row without these June 25 anti-U.S. celebrations, Trump signaled he would only engage with North Korea if real progress could be made on the denuclearization talks.

North Korea has gradually reinstated many of the threatening behaviors it had paused during the Trump presidency. In March of this year, North Korea conducted its first full test of an intercontinental ballistic missile since November of 2017.

The return of North Korea’s anti-U.S. struggle days is just the latest escalation as tensions between the two countries return to where they were before the brief period of denuclearization talks under Trump.