Last year, there was a great deal of commentary from analysts when it appeared that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had lost a large amount of weight. Most experts stated that if Kim had gotten into better shape, it likely meant good things for the future of his rule, while the opposite was likely true if he had lost weight due to some type of illness.
Now, amid a wave of missile tests, the focus has shifted to Kim’s wardrobe.
Kim has traditionally worn standard suits, solid white or black outfits, or the occasional military uniform. But recently, per CNN, the leader appeared wearing “a white tunic with black slacks,” along with a “khaki safari hat,” while attending a recent missile launch. Kim also wore a “brown field jacket” to another recent public event.
“He’s showing that he’s bold and he’s proud and he’s involved in this,” Bruce Klingner of the Heritage Foundation told CNN. “And that the tactical nuclear weapons program is his.”
North Korea has been firing missiles throughout the year, including seven ballistic missiles in the last few weeks, and one over Japan last week. North Korea has not conducted any nuclear tests during the current go-round, but experts believe another is inevitable soon.
“The government urges North Korea once again to immediately cease any additional provocations and to respond to our 'audacious initiative' offer," a South Korean unification ministry official said this week, per the Yonhap News Agency.
“The government has kept close eyes on North Korea and has strongly condemned its back-to-back test-firing of short and intermediate ballistic missiles as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a grave provocation that escalates tensions on the Korean Peninsula, as well as urging the North to immediately cease its (provocative actions) numerous times,” the South Korean official added, per Yonhap.
An Insider story back in 2019 looked at Kim’s “outrageous outfits.” Kim, it was noted, had often worn military uniforms as a child.
“After Kim came back to North Korea to finish his schooling, he mostly stayed out of the public eye till 2009. He emerged on the international stage as his father's successor and wore traditional outfits, like the popular ‘Mao’ suit and horn-rimmed glasses favored by his grandfather,” the Insider story said. “Some think that's not an accident — that he's trying to remind North Koreans of the good old days of Kim Il Sung, when the North Korean economy outperformed that of the South, as well as to cement his place as the rightful heir to the Kim dynasty.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.