via NY Daily News
North Korea is calling for a revolution — of the fashion variety.
Supreme leader Kim Jong-un appears to be loosening the government’s grip on how women dress by allowing them to wear pants, platform shoes and earrings, ABC News reported….
Previously, pants were only permitted as uniforms for females in the factories or the fields — and not for making a fashion statement.
“If caught, sometimes they would cut your pants right there in public to make it into a skirt,” Park Ye-Kyong, who defected to South Korea in 2004, told ABC News.
That doesn’t mean North Korean women don’t enjoy preening, Park added.
“Yes, we were hungry but desire to look beautiful lies in any woman,” she said.
But clothing isn’t the only lifestyle choice that the North Korean despot has reportedly eased up on: Kim apparently allows people to nosh on previously outlawed food, such as burgers and fries; encourages trips to zoos and amusement parks; and is steadily making more cell phones available.
North Korea’s state television is ramping up coverage of Kim Jong-un’s visits with the people in an apparent attempt to help the untested young leader bolster popular support.
“He’s clearly been on a kind of campaign with an emphasis on children and youth,” Marcus Noland, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told the Daily News on Monday.
“He seems much more gregarious than his father (Kim Jong-il), too. He’s going out in public. He’s doing photo ops,” said Noland, author of “Korea after Kim Jong-il.”
The new North Korean leader’s outgoing style is in sharp contrast with his father’s reclusive nature.
Kim Jong-il died last December at age 69 after a 17-year reign. He fostered a reclusive attitude — and deep paranoia — in a country of 24 million often called the Hermit Kingdom. While banning American-style fast food among other Western concepts, he allowed millions of his own people to starve to death, human-rights groups say. Beef is a luxury that few in North Korea could afford in any circumstances
Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his 20s, has tried to appear as a more engaged leader. During a tour of an amusement park, he fumed over chipped paint on the rides and the overgrown weeds, Bloomberg News reported last month.
Official state media quoted Kim as saying his criticisms provide “an opportunity to remove outdated ideological views from officials’ heads and end their old work-style.”
Park, the North Korean defector, told ABC News she’s amazed to see things changing for her family that remains in the stubbornly Stalinist country.
Kim Jong-il avoided public speeches, but his son is taking a different approach.
Her sister, she said, owns a cell phone and has requested dresses and platform shoes.
“My sister tells me that now there’s even an Italian pizza parlor and cafes in her home town … and my toddler nephew just had his first real western birthday cake from a new bakery, not the one made of rice,” Park said.
But none of this means North Korea is starting to peel away its totalitarian rule.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, right, visits Unit 158 of his navy in February.
Reuters reported earlier this year that the government was still threatening to shoot defectors attempting to flee into China.
Kim “does have this youth campaign, and he’s easing up on some petty stuff,” Noland said, “but there’s still a disconnect between what’s going on in the capital city and the tough situation that people are going through in the countrysides.”