North Korea Loses Its Communist Decor

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Nobody knows what's in the mind of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, but if his government's recent exterior design flourishes mean anything, Communist decor is not his cup of tea.

North Korean officials have removed Communist banners showcasing the symbol of the Korean Workers' Party that adorn a towering ministerial building in Pyongyang's main square, according to tourist photos compiled by NK News' Tad Farrell and NK Econwatch's Curtis Melvin. Not only that, but they've also removed the square's epic paintings of Marx and Lenin, and an expansive iconic portrait of the DPRK's founding Communist leader Kim Il Sung. Reached this morning, Farrell was kind enough to share his images with The Atlantic Wire.

Bye bye, sickle and hammer.

Good night, Uncle Karl and sweet dreams, Uncle Lenin. 

See you later, Grandpa Kim:

So what do we make of this? Is Communism finally dead in the Hermit Kingdom? 

Aesthetically, maybe. But Kim Jong Un has not proven himself to be the reformist trailblazer many hoped he'd be. Those rumored agriculture reforms? Never materialized. The gentle move toward free market principles? Didn't pan out

Still, if you're looking for signs of breaking with the past, the decor swap is at least somewhat encouraging. Farrell, whose website is must read for North Korea junkies, notes that the changes are in line with a glacially slow progression away from Communist symbolism over the years. For instance, in 2009, Articles 29 and 40 of the constitution were amended "so they no longer referred to '공산주의' (Communism)." No word yet if the North Korea's Communist Chic commando ladies are headed for the ash heap of history (to quote another famous Marxist), but we'll keep you posted. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.