Authorities in North Korea have recently banned its people from wearing leather trench coats, saying it is “impure” to copy the fashion style of its leader Kim Jong-Un.
The garb first rose to popularity in 2019 after the country’s state media showed Kim wearing one while cheering on during a missile test. The coats were initially imported from China. Local garment makers later began producing fake leather coats and sold them domestically.
Almost every North Korean marketplace now sold leather coats. Many young men who could afford the garb were also seen sporting faux leather. The leather garb also rose to popularity among women when Kim’s sister, Yo Jong, was seen sporting one earlier this month.
This led North Korean authorities to impose a crackdown on the cheap imitations, noting it as “an impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity,” sources familiar with the matter told Radio Free Asia.
The sources also told the publication that the North Korean government dispatched fashion police officers to patrol the streets and confiscate faux leather jackets from sellers and residents.
“Young men protest, saying they bought the coats with their own money and there is no reason to take them away,” one of the sources told the publication.
The crackdown on leather jackets comes as North Korea approaches the 10th anniversary of Kim’s reign as the supreme leader. The 37-year-old took over the position after his father, Kim Jong Il, died on Dec. 17, 2011, from what the North Korean press called “mental and physical overwork.” A medical analysis later stated his cause of death as heart attack, according to Brookings.
Some also speculate that the crackdown comes as Kim became the target of speculation after his weight fell from over 300 lbs to approximately 260 lbs this year.
The North Korean leader has also been the subject of rumors claiming he has fallen ill as he has not been seen in a month. His absence from public activities also fueled previous rumors claiming the North Korean leader underwent heart surgery.
Kim is expected to make a public appearance on Dec. 17 to commemorate his father’s 10th death anniversary.
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