North Korea has reportedly banned people from wearing leather trench coats because dictatorial ruler Kim Jong-un doesn’t want his citizen dressing up like him.
First worn by Kim in 2019, the coat became popular among the North Korean elite who were keen to show their loyalty to the Supreme Leader and who could afford real leather.
But due to imitations of leather trench coats, fashion police have reportedly been deployed to shut down merchants selling them and take them off people amid fears it cheapens Kim’s look and undermines his authority.
‘[Police] say that wearing clothes designed to look like the Highest Dignity’s is an ‘impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity,’ a source told Radio Free Asia, using a common honorific to refer to Kim.
‘They instructed the public not to wear leather coats, because it is part of the party’s directive to decide who can wear them.’
The outlet said knock-off versions of the coat first began appearing in September this year when unofficial trade between China and North Korea was reopened following a shut-down during the Covid pandemic.
That allowed traders to start acquiring synthetic leather to make the coats from.
Radio Free Asia claimed to have seen an import document from recent months that showed dozens of metres of the material being imported.
Kim first appeared in a leather coat in December 2019, around the time he was negotiating with Donald Trump over North Korea’s nuclear stockpile.
The styling was noted by South Korean media, which suggested it was indicative of Kim’s desire to break with tradition and forge his own identity. He had largely styled himself after his father and grandfather, the founder of North Korea by wearing Mao-style jackets and horn-rimmed glasses.