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Okay, But Will Someone Please Tell Us What's Happening With The North Korea Summit Coins?

[refreshes eBay repeatedly]

Posted on May 24, 2018, at 6:19 p.m. ET

US President Donald Trump, after days of hinting, officially declared that he would no longer be holding his scheduled summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June.

Everyone was, to put it mildly, shook. Trump has said that there might be another meeting between the two at a later date, but whether that happens is anyone's guess right now.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

Everyone was, to put it mildly, shook. Trump has said that there might be another meeting between the two at a later date, but whether that happens is anyone's guess right now.

Now the actual, you know, boring parts of diplomacy like "meeting" and "discussing issues" may not have worked out, BUT FEAST YOUR EYES ON THIS.

This here is what's called a "challenge coin" and it's one of 250 struck by the White House Communications Agency, the military office that handles the day-to-day operations of the White House's communications, ahead of the planned summit.It is also, tbh, a pretty good summation of the entire summit process: premature, kinda gaudy, definitely one for the history books.
STR / AFP / Getty Images

This here is what's called a "challenge coin" and it's one of 250 struck by the White House Communications Agency, the military office that handles the day-to-day operations of the White House's communications, ahead of the planned summit.

It is also, tbh, a pretty good summation of the entire summit process: premature, kinda gaudy, definitely one for the history books.

Challenge coins aren't weird in and of themselves — they're definitely an old military tradition.

The usually pocket-sized medallions are handed out to service members — passed off during a handshake — as a tradition to build camaraderie.(There's even a drinking game based on the "challenge" part of the coin's name. Say you're out drinking with your buddies and you slam your coin down on the table. Whoever doesn't have their coin on them has to buy drinks. But if everyone has their coin, you're the one buying a round for the crew.)More recently, a small number of them have been issued when the president travels abroad, to be given to military personnel or foreign dignitaries. Former president Barack Obama often passed them to service members at the stairs of Air Force One, and former president George W. Bush was known for giving them to injured troops when they returned from the Middle East.
Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

The usually pocket-sized medallions are handed out to service members — passed off during a handshake — as a tradition to build camaraderie.

(There's even a drinking game based on the "challenge" part of the coin's name. Say you're out drinking with your buddies and you slam your coin down on the table. Whoever doesn't have their coin on them has to buy drinks. But if everyone has their coin, you're the one buying a round for the crew.)

More recently, a small number of them have been issued when the president travels abroad, to be given to military personnel or foreign dignitaries. Former president Barack Obama often passed them to service members at the stairs of Air Force One, and former president George W. Bush was known for giving them to injured troops when they returned from the Middle East.

Here's former defense secretary Ash Carter handing out some coins to active-duty Olympians and Paralympians back in 2016 in the preferred "secret handshake" distribution method.

Zach Gibson / Getty Images

Just look at this sneaky-ass palm action.

The Trump-Kim summit coins' existence was first reported Monday and the internet went nuts over them, given both their "cart before the horse" nature and the decision to dub Kim "Supreme Leader" — which isn't his title.

The coin's designer, who asked not to be named when the Washington Examiner tracked her down, is a private citizen who works for a firm the WHCA contracted. She told the Examiner, "I'm out of this," and that "once the coins leave the custody of my firm, I have no idea what happens to them." The White House itself insisted it had no role in their design or creation.
Bloomberg / Getty Images

The coin's designer, who asked not to be named when the Washington Examiner tracked her down, is a private citizen who works for a firm the WHCA contracted. She told the Examiner, "I'm out of this," and that "once the coins leave the custody of my firm, I have no idea what happens to them." The White House itself insisted it had no role in their design or creation.

The fervor over the coins meant that by Thursday's announcement, the second-biggest question — after "um, so are we no longer interested in peace?" — was "what about the coins tho?"

Like...where do they go now? Can we have them?

Now I really want one of the summit coins

Fear not though: For those who are interested, replicas of the coins are up for sale at the official White House Gift Shop* for the low, low price of just $19.95!

Guys, the US-North Korea summit coin replica is the WH gift shop's "deal of the day" https://t.co/kzhFNOMHRR

*The gift shop isn't actually run by the White House itself but, according to its website, was established in 1946 by "Permanent Presidential Memorandum and Volunteer Members of U.S. Secret Service." Whatever that means.

The gift shop website has been down for a huge chunk of Thursday, but luckily this photo of "a news editor" looking at the site's page shows that we are not just making this up.

Eva Hambach / AFP / Getty Images

And if you think that just because the summit is off for now that you can't own your own piece of (probably) aborted history, boy are you wrong.

Disclaimer, on White House Gift Shop website, for those who ordered $24.95 Trump-Kim summit coins.

But buyer beware: Anthony Giannini, the chair of the gift shop, told the Washington Examiner that the coin's design will be different than the one the WHCA has pressed.

"Last night we had thousands and thousands ... of friends from Korea" on the site, Giannini said. "And they bought a lot." But, he added, some people have been trying to get their money back since the summit was canceled.

That hasn't stopped some folks though from doing everything they can to get their hands on the replicas.

I’ve been trying to buy that stupid summit coin for an hour now and the White House gift shop website is being balky

And if you think there's no metaphor to be had in people still desperately wanting a gold-stamped icon of a peace summit that likely will never happen, then you haven't been living in the same 2018 as the rest of us.

Which leaves us with this question though: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE 250 REAL-DEAL COINS?

Win McNamee / Getty Images

Pentagon spokespeople directed BuzzFeed News to the WHCA, which hasn't responded to requests for comment, leaving us unsure just where these vestiges of what may have been are currently located.

Now if you'll excuse us, we have an eBay alert to set up.
Bloomberg / Getty Images

Now if you'll excuse us, we have an eBay alert to set up.

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