Literal fashion police are confiscating leather coats from North Korean citizens who dare to wear them in public, according to reports.
Authorities are allegedly taking to the streets to crack down on the fashion statement in a bid to stop people from copping Kim Jong-Un’s style. Following the North Korean leader’s 2019 TV appearance donning a trench coat, stores were apparently inundated with faux leather versions imported from China.
The cheaper alternatives cost around £12 ($16), making them accessible to many. Genuine leather, however, is only attainable to the rich at the cost of £25.50 ($34) – taking into consideration the average 2018 North Korean monthly salary was said to be 50p ($0.66), according to South Korean newspaper, Korea Joongang Daily.
While many men were big fans of the affordable dupe, authorities apparently wanted to put a stop to cheap imitations, believing it to be disrespectful to emulate the fashion choices of the country’s leader.
“During the military parade at the 8th Party Congress in January of this year, the Highest Dignity and all the high-ranking officials were shown wearing leather coats also,” a source told Radio Free Asia (RFA).
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Kim Jong-Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, and other powerful women were among the leather-clad officials. “So now the leather coat has become a symbol for powerful women too,” the source added.
“As leather coats began to be recognized as a symbol of power, private clothing merchants asked trading company officials to import synthetic leather since September of this year. … They copied the design of the leather coats worn by the Highest Dignity and the officials and now they are being sold in the marketplace.”
“Young men protest, saying they bought the coats with their own money and there is no reason to take them away,” the source said.
“The police respond to the complaints, saying that wearing clothes designed to look like the Highest Dignity’s is an ‘impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity.’ They instructed the public not to wear leather coats, because it is part of the party’s directive to decide who can wear them.”