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Korean War resentment still lingers

From CNN Beijing Bureau Chief Jaime FlorCruz

Korean War
Resentment against the U.S. dates back to the 1950-53 Korean War

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In-depth: Two Koreas 

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CNN's Jaime Florcruz reports improved ties between the U.S. and North Korea may be imminent, with Washington sending an envoy to Pyongyang.
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SINUIJU, North Korea (CNN) -- A painting on the wall of a school in Pyongyang shows a U.S. soldier captured during the Korean War. In a shoe factory in Sinuiju, another poster depicts an attack on the United States.

These are a few signs of the deep resentment toward America in North Korea.

Some of Pyongyang's policies may be loosening up, but on the ground, personality cult and hostility to the U.S. persists tenaciously.

Mere mention of the United States triggers passionate rant.

"During the Korean War in 1950, they came to Korea and murdered a lot of our people. So we Korean people consider American imperialists as our sworn enemy. Even now they still don't want to trade with us," Chang Kum Suk, the director of the Peony Peak Garment Factory, says.

Last January, U.S. President George W. Bush labeled North Korea as part of an "axis of evil", a charge that prompted a furious response.

"We are definitely not part of any axis of evil. Now as in the past, we have done nothing wrong to any other country," says Ko Jong Do, a department store manager.

Different systems

Two different systems, and different peoples.

Americans know very little about North Koreans, and vice versa.

At the Pyongyang No. 1 Secondary School, CNN asked student Hyo Jin if he knows of Michael Jordan.

"Michael Jordan? I don't know him," he says.

Fellow student Han Moon Zong, is asked if he would like to visit the United States?

A firm "no" is his reply.

But North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has been sending out more positive signals, resuming talks with South Korea and hosting the historic visit of Japan's prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"I think step-by-step DPRK (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is building friendships, or re-building friendships, with its neighbors, with all its neighbors. And, definitely importance of relations with the USA is high on the agenda," says Roger Barrett, president of Korea Business Consultants.

An improvement of ties may be in the offing with Washington sending an envoy to Pyongyang to restart the delicate process of putting their turbulent history behind them.

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