Report: Killer Heels Go Down a Storm in North

“Killer heels,” a
popular mode of footwear across East Asia today, have made it to the streets of North
Korea, pro-North publication Choson Sinbo proclaimed on July 30th.

According to the propagandist publication,
which is published by Chongryon in Japan, “The heels sold in Pyongyang No.1 Department
Store and other markets have thick heels and high platforms. The toe box is
either round or square and the backs of the heels are adorned with a single
strap or lace.”

“The trend changes so
quickly here; it’s so hard to keep up,” Ri Mi Ok, a female manager at Potonggang
Shoe Factory told the publication in
an interview
. “The seat of the heels are very high and stores carry a
diverse selection with various decorations. Women refuse to wear heels less
than 5cm.”

“Even the men,
especially the younger ones, are into shoes that have high platforms and pointy
toe boxes,” Ri added. Kim Jong Il famously wore shoes with a high platform heel
to try and disguise his diminutive frame.

According to Choson
, Potonggang Shoe Factory, which opened in the 1960s, has around 950
workers, making it the largest shoe manufacturer in North Korea. With 8
professional designers, it claims to produce 50 different types of shoe and
have nationwide circulation.
These include special models for disabled persons.

A defector explained
the reasons behind this phenomenon to Daily NK, “Pyongyang women are
influenced by Ri Sol Ju and the Moranbong Band, so they like to wear strappy
heels. Some people say that this fashion taste runs contrary to socialism, but
women rebut these accusations by pointing out that ‘even the Marshal’s wife
wears them.’”

The North Korean
authorities have been pushing a media focus on contemporary improvements to
ordinary lives since Kim Jong Eun came to power in late 2011. This has included
news of swimwear and other clothing “trends,” marking an attempt to portray the
image of a state moving forward under Kim’s youthful and energetic, yet knowledgeable, guidance. However, many of the things presented as evidence of this progress have not trickled down to wider society beyond Pyongyang.

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