A decision by North Korea’s eccentric dictator Kim Jong Un has created panic among South Korea and its allied countries. In fact, on the orders of Kim Jong Un, North Korea has bombed its monument of reunification. This was known as the “Arc of Reunification”. It was a symbol of hope for reconciliation with South Korea. The decision to demolish the monument came shortly after a speech by regime leader Kim Jong-un, in which he called the monument an “eyesore.” Now Kim Jong has erased this grimace from his eyes forever.
Kim said in his speech that peaceful reunification of the two Koreas, divided since August 1945, was no longer possible and called for amendments to the North Korean constitution to reflect South Korea’s status as his country’s “major enemy.” Unveiled in 2001, the Arch of Reunification depicts two Korean women wearing traditional attire – known as hanbok (“Korean clothing”) in South Korea and Chosŏn-Ōti (“Korean clothing”) in North Korea. The women jointly present an image of a unified Korean peninsula, reflecting the North Korean government’s genuine desire at the time to reunify the two countries.
Kim Jong gave a big sign of hostility by destroying symbols of hope for unification
This is not the first time North Korea has destroyed symbols of hope for Korean cooperation, dialogue and unification. In June 2020, North Korea recorded and released footage of blowing up a joint liaison office with South Korea near the border city of Kaesong. This site was opened to help the two countries communicate. The following year, in August 2021, North Korea severed the inter-Korean hotline – a series of more than 40 telephone lines connecting North and South Korea – in protest of military exercises jointly conducted by South Korea and the US . By doing this, Kim has also indicated great enmity with South Korea. However, Kim then reinstated the hotline two months later and urged Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations.
Now we can’t be together again
The destruction of the Arch of Reunification signals North Korea’s determination to make reunification impossible. But, despite the monument’s physical destruction, its depiction on five official postage stamps serves to immortalize the monument and its symbols. Postage stamps function not only as items that demonstrate the payment of postal rates, but also as small carriers of promotional messages. In the past, they have been described as “ambassadors” and “windows to the country” conveying the official viewpoint, reflecting how it wants to be viewed by its citizens and those beyond its borders. However, these steps of Kim have made it clear that now he will never be able to unite.
Remembering Joseph Stalin
In most totalitarian countries, revision of the official party narrative requires changing and removing symbols associated with the previous narrative. The most notable example of this is the removal of the name of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin from many cities and landmarks following his death in 1953. It became part of the de-Stalinization movement in the late 1950s and destroyed Stalin’s “cult of personality”. Stalin used art and popular culture to improve his status as a leader and inspire loyalty. Similarly, the official North Korean philatelic catalog removed five stamps from its list that depicted the Arch of Reunification. Stamp catalogs provide information on when the stamps were issued, who designed them, their dimensions and colours. (The Conversation)
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