The headlines have been abuzz for weeks now with news of a potential meeting between the United States and North Korea.
Back in March, Donald Trump and North Koren leader Kim Jung-Un announced a potential meeting between the two parties. Many hoped the meeting could begin to end decades of high tensions with North Korea and the rest of the world.
A military challenge coin was minted in commemoration of the historic summit.
But, in the weeks leading up to the meeting, Trump canceled. He is citing hostility from the North Korean leader as his main reason. In the days following this cancellation, talks of the summit have again floated in the press. But at this current moment, the future of the meeting is uncertain.
Where does this leave the Trump-Kim military coin? And what is the controversy that surrounds it? We’ll dive into this and more below.
What Is The Trump-Kim Military Coin?
You might have missed the news about the 2018 presidential military challenge coin. The White House Communications Agency issued a coin to commemorate the event following news of the planned meeting.
The White House Communications Agency does not actually have any official affiliation to the presidency. There has been some confusion in regards to this due to their name. But according to Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House has no part in the process of designing and releasing the coin.
The White House gift shop is selling the coin to consumers.
The coin features heavy red white and blue coloring. It also features two golden profiles of Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-un, with the title ‘Peace Talks’ at the top of the coin. Kim Jong-Un is referred to as the Supreme Leader on the commemorative coin.
Both the American flag and North Koren flag are featured, positioned behind the heads of their respective leaders.
The White House Communications Agency chose to issue and announce the coin despite the summit’s uncertain future. The coin’s announcement came a few weeks prior to President Trump’s cancellation of the summit.
Challenge coins date back deep in US history and are minted recognizing a wide variety of events, ranging from 9/11 to the passing of the Civil Rights Act. Many are found in museums, and even more are collected and traded in online communities.
Companies such as ChallengeCoins4Less even let consumers create their own challenge coins in the tradition of that long history. Customers can commemorate personal events or milestones or celebrate institutions such as the police or firefighters with their own custom coins.
What Was The Coin Controversy?
Immediately upon its release to the public, the visual representation of the coin began to stir up controversy online and in Washington, D.C.
Many, including prominent Democrat senator Chuck Schumer, took issue with the North Koren leader’s inclusion on the coin. He and others also took issue with the inclusion of Jong-un’s self-appointed title as Supreme Leader.
Schumer urged the White House to take Jung-Un’s image off of the coin. He did defend the tradition and value of challenge coin minting. Schumer took more issue with what he seemed to view as the celebration of a ‘brutal dictator.’ He recommended that ‘something like the Peace House’ replace the North Korean leader’s image.
The Peace House is a demilitarized area between South and North Korea. It is possible that Schumer believed at the time that the summit between the nations would take place here. However, the summit was planned to take place in Singapore.
Many others took issue with the White House Communications Agency’s hasty decision to release the coin. No official confirmation of the Trump-Kim meeting was obtained. Many believe the creation of the coin is embarrassing and not fitting the dignity of the nation, given the current status of the summit.
Others though, have defended the creation of the coin despite the existence of the meeting. These individuals cite it as an important political artifact and piece of memorabilia. There are many that find the steps of progress with North Korea important and worth celebrating despite the summit potentially not occurring.
What Happens With The Donald Trump Coins Now?
With the existence of the historic summit once again thrown into uncertainty, many have wondered whether the Trump-Kim military coin will still be on the market.
The answer is: yes.
The White House Gift Shop still has the military coin on sale and have stated that they will produce the coin whether or not the summit actually occurs. The official wording on the White House Gift Shop page defends the coin. It states that the theme of the coin is ‘Coming Closer To Peace,’ and that therefore the coin retains symbolic value despite advertising an event that never came to be.
The official site also states that they don’t foresee many refund requests regardless of the summit’s actuality. They will be providing them at consumer discretion.
In fact, Fox News reported that the gift shop website actually crashed and was offline following news of the summit’s cancellation. Many scrambled to purchase what could now be considered a political and historical oddity.
The shop for a time offered the coin as the Deal of the Day for $19.95.
With Trump recently mentioning that the summit meeting could be back on, the future value of the commemorative coin is unclear. Regardless, the coin remains an interesting physical artifact of this time in United States history.
Trump-Kim Meeting: Only Time Can Tell
It’s impossible to state at this juncture whether a meeting between the leaders of these two powerful countries will occur. Regardless, it’s an exciting prospect and a hopeful step towards nuclear disarmament. If the meeting does occur, it could be a golden moment in Donald Trump’s controversy-heavy presidency.
The Trump-Kim military coin will be a valuable reminder of this crossroads. It will also be a reminder, if things don’t pan out, of a future that could have been.
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