The flyers, found and tweeted by a Reuters correspondent over the weekend, are just the latest North Korean propaganda images to appear in Seoul.
In mid-October, other posters showed Trump depicted as a mad dog, with his head superimposed upon a dog’s body. “Death to old lunatic Trump!” read one poster, with a North Korean soldier with rifle in hand, crushing what looks to be Trump’s head with his tongue dangling out of his mouth. Near the soldier’s head is the line: “Complete obliteration.”
Another poster showed Trump with the body of a dog being decapitated by an axe. Blood is shown splattered on the axe in the poster, which states: “Let’s behead mad dog Trump for the future of a peaceful and warless world and mankind!”
“I am pretty sure it came from North Korea by balloon, since the prevailing winds during October have been from north to south and we’ve been getting reports of others finding them throughout Seoul,” said Chad O’Carroll, managing director of NK News, a Seoul-based news subscription service, who found the leaflets while jogging in central Seoul.
It is not difficult to find North Korean propaganda posters in South Korea, often flown by balloon over the highly fortified demilitarized zone. Military images and anti-U.S. threats are common in North Korean propaganda as Pyongyang demands the United States cease what it says is its preparations for invasion.
“The entire size of the Korean peninsula is about one hundredth the size of Canada. It is very easy for North Korea to smuggle materials through their agents in China or South Korea, or infiltrate through cyber networks,” said Tina Park, the executive director of the Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and an expert in Korean affairs.
“Largely these propaganda posters are aimed at the general South Korean public,” she said, “And traditionally any contact with North Korean propaganda materials was considered as an illicit activity, so young students in South Korea are taught to report to the police if they encounter anything suspicious. There are some key themes like anti-American sentiments, boasting of North Korean military powers, and the need to stand firm against American imperialism.”
But although anti-Americanism has always been a feature of such propaganda, the new series of flyers posted recently on Twitter and other social media target Trump specifically.
“President Trump has been engaging in very open and bellicose rhetoric against North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, which North Koreans take very seriously,” said Park.
Trump last month, in a speech to the United Nations, threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if needed to defend itself and allies and called the North’s leader a “rocket man” on a suicide mission.
WATCH: In his first address before the United Nations, U.S. President Donald Trump tore into the North Korean regime, whose delegate was seated just feet from him, calling them “depraved” and blaming them for war crimes.
“The idea of saving face is a very important one in Asian diplomacy,” said Park, and the ultra-ideological regime in Pyongyang takes attacks on their leader very personally and retaliates to them immediately.
In an apparent jab at Trump’s U.N. speech, one of the propaganda posters featured Trump standing behind a podium with a rocket in his mouth painted with the words “totally destroy North Korea.”
Again, Trump is depicted as a dog with a human face and labelled as “mad dog Trump.”
Men in suits with surprised looks on their faces are shown in the poster saying “He’s gone completely insane” and “If we let him be, there will be war.”
Trump is scheduled to visit several Asian countries, including South Korea and Japan, from Nov. 3-14.
— With files from Reuters