Fashion tied to loyalty

By Yupina Ng

North Korean women in Pyongyang wear fitted suits and high heels daily, even at the amusement park and ice rink. Jeans and sneakers are rare.

“Who would love a woman dressed like a westerner?” a local tour guide, who is in his 40s, said.

Neatly pressed skirts, shirts and trousers are dark colored. A dress code gives a sense of belonging to the country, one North Korean said.

But when a women wears the often brightly coloured traditional dress called choson-ot in the North and hanbok in the South, she is “evocative of the fairies in the heavens,” says the Korea Friendship Association website.

The woman’s choson-ot is characterised by simple lines, a full skirt without pockets, and short jacket tied with a ribbon in front. North Korean women wear it on special occasions, such as a wedding and national day.

For men, the North Korean fashion is a Chinese-style tunic suit, like Kim Jong-un’s, with leather shoes. They even wear them on the farm as they want to “look alike their dear leader,” a local said. ­­

The accessory they all share is the little red badge, always fastened on their upper left chest.  The badge, some with Kim Il-sung’s portrait, others include Kim Jong-il’s, is distributed by work units and not for sale. Some say that a patrol is set up to check for badges, though this was not verified.

A story about all male students having to get the same haircut as Kim Jong-un went viral recently,and  a 24-year-old North Korean woman said that universities do administer students’ hairstyle. Each university has its own salon and is free for students, she said.

She added that the working-class have the right to decide their own hairstyle.

When ask about his views on fashion, the middle-aged male tour guide said, “Chic is a thing that belongs to other people. It is stupid to look at the others and think that they are fashionable. ”

Author: robin

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