Police are cracking down on an ‘impure trend’ of imitating the North Korean leader, following the country’s ban on mullets and skinny jeans

Once again, North Korea’s fashion police are out in force, as Kim Jong-un bans the country’s citizens from wearing leather coats in efforts to imitate his personal style (KKW isn’t the only Kim that’s been making waves with her leather lewks, it seems).

In case you haven’t been keeping up with what’s hot or not in North Korea, the new crackdown follows a blanket ban on mullets and skinny jeans brought into effect earlier this year. That itself was part of a broader pushback against the “exotic and decadent” influence of capitalism (which also saw the leader declare K-pop a “vicious cancer”). This time around, however, the reasons behind the ban appear to be more personal. 

Though leather jackets have been popular in North Korea since at least the early 2000s, the trench coat variation became popular among the masses when Kim Jong-un wore one for a TV appearance back in 2019. According to Radio Free Asia, rich people quickly snapped up real leather coats imported from China, before North Korean garment makers began making cheaper copies out of faux leather.

This year, another TV appearance by Kim and a selection of leather-clad officials cemented the trend, a Pyongsong resident tells RFA in an anonymous statement. “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,” they say.

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 This gathering of officials reportedly included several powerful women, such as Kim Jong Un’s sister (and potential successor) Kim Yo-jong. “So now the leather coat has become a symbol for powerful women too.” Apparently, the Supreme Leader isn’t a fan of of ordinary citizens stealing his fave look, however — hence, the countrywide ban.

Authorities say that wearing clothes designed to look like Kim Jong-un’s is an “impure trend to challenge the authority of the Highest Dignity”, according to the North Korean source. “They instructed the public not to wear leather coats, because it is part of the party’s directive to decide who can wear them.”

A second source explains that police have targeted both the designers of the coats and citizens that are seen showing off their Kim Jong-un-inspired drip. “When these leather coats became popular, the law enforcement authorities went after the companies that made the coats that look too much like the Highest Dignity’s,” they say. “They also go after people wearing them in public.”

“Residents protest against the crackdown asking how there could be anything impure about the choice to wear a leather coat.”

Earlier this week (November 23), it was also reported that North Korean authorities have sentenced a man to death for smuggling copies of the Netflix hit Squid Game into the country on illegal flash drives. Several students who were caught watching the series also face jail time, RFA reports, though some experts doubt that the show could have breached the country’s borders amid a harsh foreign media crackdown.