North Korea has apparently outlawed the wearing of leather trench coats because dictatorial leader Kim Jong-un does not want his citizens dressing up like him.
The coat, which was first worn by Kim in 2019, became popular among North Korean elites who wanted to show their allegiance to the Supreme Leader but couldn’t afford real leather.
However, fashion police have reportedly been deployed to shut down merchants selling imitation leather trench coats and remove them from people, amid concerns that it cheapens Kim’s appearance and undermines his authority.
‘[Police] say that dressing up as the Highest Dignity is a ‘impure trend to challenge the Highest Dignity’s authority,’ a source told Radio Free Asia, using a common honorific to refer to Kim.
‘They told the public not to wear leather coats because the party has the authority to decide who can wear them,’ says the source.
Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, has banned leather coats to prevent citizens from copying his style.
According to the outlet, knock-off versions of the coat first appeared in September of this year, when unofficial trade between China and North Korea was reopened after the Covid pandemic shut it down.
As a result, traders were able to begin acquiring synthetic leather to use in the coats.
Radio Free Asia claimed to have seen a recent import document showing dozens of meters of the material being imported.
Kim wore a leather coat for the first time in December 2019, when he was negotiating with Donald Trump over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.
South Korean media picked up on the styling and speculated that it was a sign of Kim’s desire to break with tradition and forge his own identity. Wearing Mao-style jackets and horn-rimmed glasses, he modeled himself after his father and grandfather, North Korea’s founder.