Home News North Korean women run afoul of fashion police

North Korean women run afoul of fashion police

Women wearing ‘ideologically unsound’ clothing are being arrested in North Korea.

Authorities in the repressive state are cracking down on so-called anti-socialist behavior and are strictly enforcing rules on non-conforming styles of dress, reported RFA’s Korean Services.

“These days, the Central Committee [of the Korean Workers’ Party] has said they will root out anti-socialism, so they have stepped up their crackdowns,” a resident of North Hamgyong province told RFA.

“Complaints are mounting, as styles of dress and even manners of speaking are being targeted,” the source added.

According to the source, citizens say that the campaign’s goal is about controlling society and added that one woman was publicly disgraced for wearing wrinkle-free trousers.

“Early in the morning a couple days ago, a woman wearing wrinkle-free pants was arrested in Shinam district, Chongjin, [the biggest city in North Hamgyong],” the source said.

“She was unable to report for work. The woman appealed [to the inspectors] saying she was in an urgent situation and was unable to [wear appropriate] clothing, but the inspectors made a spectacle out of her by having her stand by the side of the road,” said the source.

The source said that the episode caused tension between regime officials and locals.

“The inspectors said that they widely informed the public about [renewed] crackdowns on anti-socialist behavior and asked her if her non-compliance was to challenge the Central Committee’s policies. “Residents who witnessed the scene retorted that it is unreasonable for them to expect citizens to crease their pants when they don’t supply [continuous] electricity,” said the source.

A second source told RFA that the crackdown unfairly targets women, adding that women more often run afoul of the clothing regulations than men.

“In this crackdown against anti-socialism, young women have seen more problems. This is because the wrinkle-free pants, which [authorities] have tabbed as decadent capitalist dress, are a popular style among women who [want to] express their modern beauty,” said this source.

The disapproval on wrinkle-free pants is an ideological issue said the source.

“The authorities say that they evoke capitalism and are at odds with the sense of the revolution and [the elimination] of classism,” the second source added.

It’s also not a new phenomenon.

“In the past, it used to be common for people to get out of trouble by begging inspectors or bribing them, but now, the people, especially women, [can be seen] in violent arguments with the inspectors,” said the second source.

“Women strongly protest the authorities using politics to impose their will on beauty standards,” the second source said.

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