The White House is really excited by the impending meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un in June. So excited, in fact, that the White House Communications Agency has done the most logical thing it could do to celebrate: issued a gaudy commemorative coin, emblazoned with Trump’s and Kim’s faces.
The coin has arrived a little early, since Trump himself is not actually certain that the meeting will take place (“we’ll see what happens,” the President said on Tuesday). Yet there’s already a big problem: the coin’s design.
There's now a White House Military Office coin for the upcoming Trump Kim Jong Un summit. The North Korean dictator is referred to as "Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un." pic.twitter.com/tFAmE813Y1
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) May 21, 2018
Whatever designer was gang-pressed into creating it decided to refer to Kim as “Supreme Leader”–essentially turning the coin into White House-approved North Korean propaganda while ignoring the fact that Kim’s regime is considered one of the most repressive in the world, committing egregious human rights violations like forced labor camps and public executions. In displaying the two leaders face to face, the coin also puts Trump and Kim on visually equal standing, which, as Vox points out, gives Kim another status bump. That’s the last thing Trump should be giving Kim before they go into negotiations about North Korea’s nuclear weapons program–and Trump’s premature celebration of victory could make him less likely to walk away from the talks if it becomes clear that Kim won’t back down, which looks likely. After all, this is not a man known for cool-headed deal-making.
Plus, who decided that Trump had a chiseled jawline? And, for that matter, that Kim has none at all?
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN that the White House did “not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin,” nor was it paid for using taxpayer money. Instead, members of the military fund these types of coins, and have since 2003. The White House Communications Agency usually creates them for each of Trump’s trips abroad. An unnamed American coin manufacturer that designs and mints them. These coins will escape the eyes (and collections) of most, luckily: Only 250 will be released.
Even though coins like this aren’t uncommon, this one’s bad timing and terrible design are reminiscent of the Trump administration’s (and campaign’s) poor track record with design, from Melania’s recent chicken scratch logo for her cyberbullying campaign “Be Best” to that first erotic Trump-Pence emblem. Co.Design has reached out to the White House Communications Agency for more information. We will update this post if we hear back.