With Peace Talks Called Off, White House Gift Shop Site Crashes Over Demand for North Korea Coin
President Trump announced yesterday that he canceled the planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, citing "tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in [Kim's] most recent statement."
The meeting, which was scheduled for June 12, was marked by commemorative coins depicting Trump and Kim in front of their respective nations' flags, with the words "Peace Talks" above them.
NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted an image of the North Korea coin, and said that 250 were made.
Less than a month to Trump-Kim summit, White House Communications Agency (WHCA) releases its “trip coin.”
This is #74 of 250 made. pic.twitter.com/UTEJg1GyWv
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) May 21, 2018
The White House responded to criticism over the North Korea coin, claiming that it "was not created by or approved by the White House, nor was it paid for by using government funds," per CNN.
Its design is similar to a challenge coin, which EPA head Scott Pruitt toyed with before.
"Since 2003, White House Communications Agency members have ordered a limited number of commercially designed and manufactured souvenir travel coins for purchase," White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah told CNN. "These coins are designed, manufactured and made by an American coin manufacturer. These souvenir coins are only ordered after a trip has been publicly announced. The White House did not have any input into the design and manufacture of the coin."
The coin's design first sparked debate due to its use of "Supreme Leader" as Kim's title, rather than the standard "leader" phrase used by the White House, per NPR.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted on Tuesday that the White House should remove Kim from the North Korea coin.
I urge the White House to take Kim off the coin. Challenge coins are a time honored tradition and certainly appropriate in this situation, but Kim Jong Un’s face has no place on this coin. He is a brutal dictator and something like the Peace House would be much more appropriate. https://t.co/ZHUKVqW7yN
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 22, 2018
With the peace talks called off, one might assume the coins would never see the light of day. But that wasn't the case, entirely. While the status of the official, limited edition White House Communications Agency North Korea coin is uncertain, the White House Gift Shop said it would still offer similar replica coins for sale (at a discount) and that all preorders would be processed:
Disclaimer, on White House Gift Shop website, for those who ordered $24.95 Trump-Kim summit coins. pic.twitter.com/zlrfFUJINX
— Steve Inskeep (@NPRinskeep) May 24, 2018
That announcement apparently led to a rush of traffic to the White House Gift Shop website, causing it to crash for several hours last night. The site is back online, but as of this morning still had sluggish load times.