• cookingwiththehamster

DPRK: North Korea and possible fashion

The history of North Korea begins on August 15, 1945, when the Japanese ended their rule in Korea with unconditional surrender at the end of the Second World War. Kim Il-sung was the revolutionary who led the Korean People's Army in the Korean Communist resistance against the Japanese imperialists, establishing himself as the head of the country as general of the Korean Workers' Party.

From 1946 in North Korea (demarcated at the 38th parallel) feudal land ownership was abolished, banks, industries, post offices, telecommunications and transport were nationalized, gender equality was proclaimed and a huge schooling campaign was conducted (almost a quarter of the population was in fact illiterate).

On September 9, 1948, the Supreme People's Assembly proclaimed the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Pyongyang, the capital. Right from the start, many people tried to escape to the South and were immediately punished once they were discovered.

Kim Il-sung in 1948 cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung in 1948 | © wikipedia.org

In 1950, the Korean War broke out, tearing the entire peninsula to pieces. The causes of the conflict are still confused today: according to North Korea, its attack was a response to a surprise offense by the Seoul army, while for South Korea the North counterpart was already in agreement with USSR and China.

In a short time Kim Il-sung's army conquered the whole peninsula, except Pusan ​​(stronghold of French and American soldiers): right here the United Nations landed, thanks to the intervention of the USA: during the months of the conflict, the United they used 576,000 tons of bombs, 29,535 tons of napalm and caused about one million civilian deaths. 75% of Pyongyang was destroyed, while other towns and villages were completely razed to the ground. As a counterattack, half a million Chinese soldiers came to North Korea's aid. On 27 July 1953 the armistice was signed in Panmunjom, which is still in force today, while a peace treaty has never been stipulated.

The fact that there are still thousands of US soldiers in South Korea today is considered the main obstacle to reunification according to the Pyongyang government (Chinese troops in fact left the Korean peninsula in 1958). Furthermore, from the DPRK's point of view, it was North Korea that won the war against the US.

USA B-29 bombers cookingwiththehamster
USA B-29 bombers | © nytimes.com
North Korean civilians after USA bombs cookingwiththehamster
North Korean civilians after USA bombs | © nytimes.com
North Korea after after USA bombs cookingwiththehamster
North Korea after after USA bombs | © nytimes.com
North Korea soldiers during the war cookingwiththehamster
North Korea soldiers during the war | © nytimes.com
Korean armistice agreement cookingwiththehamster
Korean armistice agreement | © wikipedia.org
The bombing of Pyongyang by USA cookingwiththehamster
The bombing of Pyongyang by USA | © caucus99percent.com
Korea after war cookingwiththehamster
Korea after war | © time.com

During the 1950s the economy and industrial structure of the DPRK were quickly structured according to the ideas developed by Kim Il-sung del Juche ("mainstream"), the official ideology of North Korea on which the system is based. political inspired by socialism, patriotism and the concept of independence and which merges with the concept of Songun (cardinal principle that sees the Korean people's army at the top of state affairs).

 DPKR in 1955 cookingwiththehamster
DPKR in 1955 | © wikipedia.org
Pyongyang Juche tower cookingwiththehamster
Pyongyang Juche tower | © wikipedia.org

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, the history of North Korea was studded with episodes of criticality and attacks. The peak of the tensions, which this time involved the DPRK from within, came in the mid-1990s: the country was hit by a terrible famine which, according to non-governmental organizations, caused over 3 million deaths.

This terrible episode was not something isolated and that was resolved in a short time, but rather shook the international community and still today carries aftermath throughout the country.

North Korea is characterized by a difficult, mountainous territory (only 20% of it is arable), subject to cold temperatures that even reach -20 ° C and ice that covers the ground for many months (allowing only one crop. 'year).

Between 1994 and 1998 the country was subjected to continuous floods (which also destroyed the stocks stored underground) interspersed with great periods of drought. The economic planning of the Pyongyang government turned out to be unsuccessful, in addition to the fact that the USSR stopped supporting it as in the past, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the birth of Russia. The few remaining food reserves were distributed to people chosen on the basis of political ideals and the degree of loyalty to the state. This was joined by a totally inadequate health system, lacking suitable equipment and the use of contaminated water: many patients were even treated with infusions made from non-sterilized beer bottles! For all these reasons, for the first time in its history, Pyongyang was forced out of isolationism and asked for help from foreign countries, receiving over 1 billion dollars in four years.

Food shortage still characterizes North Korea today. It continued to receive humanitarian aid from South Korea, Japan, the European Union, the United States and China until 2002, when Pyongyang declared it did not want more.

It was also estimated that in 2011 the government reduced the daily food intake from 1400 kcal to 700 kcal per person. Pre-school children are about 4 cm shorter than those in South Korea, and most people only eat meat on holidays (i.e. Kim Il-sung's and Kim Jong-il's birthdays). In all world rankings on human rights and nutrition, North Korea always occupies the last places.

North Korean famine in the 90s  cookingwiththehamster
North Korean famine in the 90s | © sites.psu.edu
North Korean famine in the 90s cookingwiththehamster
North Korean famine in the 90s | © pinterest.com

Kim Il-sung (still referred to as the "Great Leader" today) died in 1994 and was immortalized in the constitution as the nation's "eternal president" - in fact, North Korea is the only country in the world that has a deceased leader who is still ruling.

In life, he was the proponent of the cult of his own personality so as to make him "immortal" even after death.

Idolatry for Kim Il-sung affects the whole Kim family according to the so-called "familism", that is a type of collectivism where the individual must give priority to family or society: the value of the family has in fact influenced all aspects of life in North Korea (economy, politics, social relations). When the USSR entered Korea in 1945, it led to the ideas of collectivism and communism: KIm Il-sung was able to merge them with the cult of personality, applying Western Marxism in the Asian state while ensuring the unquestioned and unconditional loyalty of the people.

In 1949, therefore, the construction of the statues of the leader throughout the country began (there are over 30,000 of them) and monuments, in 1953 he continued with his total veneration through mass purges. In 1967 Kim Jong-il was appointed to the State Department of Propaganda and Information for the development of the father cult. In fact, the 1972 constitution required total loyalty and submission to the Kim family, a peculiarity that merged with the Juche and the Songun.

Kim Il-sung statue cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung statue | © travelblog.org
Kim Il-sung portrait cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung portrait | © smh.com.au
Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il portraits in a school cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il portraits in a school | © abc.net.au
DPKR soldiers cookingwiththehamster
DPKR soldiers | © ft.com

About Kim Il-sung, yesterday as today, stories and legends are told. He is credited with supernatural, magical powers, and is considered the only one to have defeated Japan and built the nation after the Korean War. The deeds of the Great leader are reported in school books and children are taught that they have been cared for by the "grace of the President": in primary schools there are also classrooms used only for the lessons that concern him, complete with a model of his place of birth.

His name in the newspapers must be written completely attached, it cannot be divided or go out of bounds - just as the newspapers portraying the leaders of the Kim family cannot be folded or thrown away, which must absolutely be returned.

In 1997 the Gregorian calendar was replaced with the Juche: since then the count of the years has been established starting from the birth of Kim Il-sung (April 15, 1912), indicated as year 1.

DPRK parallel calendar cookingiwththehamster
DPRK parallel calendar | © 247newsaroundtheworld.com
Kim Il-sung school room cookingiwththehamster
Kim Il-sung school room | © wordpress.com
Kim Il-sung propaganda portrait cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung propaganda painting | © pinterest.com
Kim Il-sung propaganda painting cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung propaganda painting | © pinterest.com
Kim Il-sung propaganda painting cookingwiththehamster
Kim Il-sung propaganda painting | © pinterest.com

The construction of the mythology of the Kim family also invested Kim Jong-il, whose birth was imposed in 1942 on Mount Paektu (the highest in the peninsula) in the secret base of his father Kim Il-sung: it is said that his birth was announced by a swallow, a star in the sky, a double rainbow and the transition from winter to summer. In fact he was born in 1941 in the USSR.

The legends concerning him tell, for example, that he knew how to walk and talk at a very tender age, that even a French fashion expert would have said that his unprecedented style was expanding all over the world and that he was able to control the weather according to his mood.

His death in 2011 was followed by a hundred days of mourning: anyone who did not cry or was not suffering from sincere pain was also punished with death. For this occasion, the propaganda declared that layers of ice broke and that there were great gusts of wind and snow.

To date, in all houses there must be portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il hanging on an empty wall, at the highest point (so that no one can exceed them in height). People must constantly keep them clean with special cloths - strict controls are made on their maintenance. Adults must also wear a government-supplied pin that depicts them together on the left, above the heart.

Kim Jong-il school room cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il school room | © flickr.com
Leaders portraits in a house cookingwiththehamster
Leaders portraits in a house | © hrnkinsider.org
Kim Jong-il propaganda portrait cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il propaganda portrait | © wikipedia.org
Kim Jong-il propaganda portrait cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il propaganda portrait | © pinterest.com
Kim Jong-il funeral cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il funeral | © nytimes.com
Kim Jong-il funeral cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il funeral | © stltoday.com
Kim Jong-il funeral cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il funeral | © khq.com
Kim Jong-il funeral cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il funeral | © dailymail.co.uk
Kim Jong-il funeral cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-il funeral | © dailymail.co.uk
DPRK pin cookingwiththehamster
DPRK pin | © rfa.org

But it is certainly Kim Jong-un who we know most today. Nephew of Kim Il-sung, he initially called himself a Young General and subsequently a respected General, the latter title certainly chosen by virtue of the fact that many of him, even within his family, opposed his rise to power. His uncle, Chang Sang-taek, was in fact sentenced to death in 2013 because he was accused of wanting to oust him: the chronicles reported that he was stripped and put with his collaborators inside a cage where they were eaten by 120 dogs kept fasted for weeks.

Likewise, all those who did not prove loyal to him were sent to re-education camps (ie concentration camps) or punished with death - in fact it was the same thing.

Kim Jong-un first election cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un first election | © chinadaily.com.cn
Kim Jong-un cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un | © blastingnews.com
Kim Jong-un cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un | © ilprimatonazionale.it

Like his predecessors, Kim Jong-un also developed the cult of personality through posters and propaganda media, largely thanks to the work of his younger sister Kim Yo-jong. Director of the Labor Party of Korea's Department of Agitation and Propaganda, Kim Yo-jong plays a crucial role in developing the brother cult that is based on the image of his grandfather, given the similarity. All major public events are organized by her. In 2018, she was the first member of the Kim family since the war to visit South Korea at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un and Kim Yo-jong | © it.insideover.com
Kim Yo-jong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Yo-jong | © quora.com
Kim Yo-jong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Yo-jong | © businessinsider.com

The recent history of North Korea is linked to the nuclear crisis.

In 2003, when North Korea withdrew from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and three years later launched seven ballistic missiles. It then endorsed the first underground nuclear test, an act condemned by the entire international community (including China) with economic sanctions.

In 2007, North Korea then agreed to dismantle nuclear facilities in exchange for money and aid. Subsequently, the railway connections between the two Koreas were restored for the first time (a fact of enormous symbolic value, even if the completion of the railway line takes years).

The situation worsened again in 2013, when Kim Jong-un's DPRK declared a state of war on South Korea announcing the green light for a nuclear attack on the United States in case of aggression. The tension grew especially in 2017 with the succession of nuclear and missile tests and the intervention of the then President Donald Trump on the issue.

The following year Kim Jong-un agreed to meet Moon Jae-in (president of South Korea) in Pangmujeon. Diplomatic agreements followed with the meeting of the two presidents in South Korea.

Kim Jung-un with Donald Trump cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jung-un with Donald Trump | © globalist.it
Kim Jung-un with Moon Jae-in cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jung-un with Moon Jae-in | © tpi.it

Today the DPRK is a totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship based on the personality cult of the Kim family. In fact, state atheism is in force and the government prohibits freedom of speech and of the press through control of the media - there are few television stations, the main one being the Central Korean Television whose programming is interrupted en bloc at 11pm: 00. There are some internet sites (which works within the country and is available to only a few people) that spread the country's propaganda and glory, as well as the radio station Voice of Korea.

DPRK tv cookingwiththehamster
DPRK tv | © qz.com
DPRK tv cookingwiththehamster
DPRK tv | © northkoreatech.org

School is compulsory up to secondary school and there are universities. The health system is free but the hospitals have been described as "barely functional" by Amnesty International. The latter has recently published satellite images of the prison camps, also producing reports based on the testimonies of former prisoners and guardians who escaped from the Yodok concentration camp, where people (often entire families with children) are forced to grueling jobs in the cold. glacial free of clothing. However, the testimonies collected by people who fled from North Korea are often conflicting and not true, in addition to the fact that many of them express a desire to want to go back.

Kim Jong-un in a military hospital cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un in a military hospital | © sciencemag.org
Amnesty International satellite images cookingwiththehamster
Amnesty International satellite images | © amnesty.it
Chongo-ri lager cookingwiththehamster
Chongo-ri lager | © corriere.it

Life in urban centers is very different from that in the countryside, where there is great poverty and hunger. Both realities are united by the lack of electricity, which lasts for a few hours a day (during the night the countryside plunges into pitch darkness, as is often the total lack of heating). All this due to the high maintenance costs and numerous international sanctions.

Lights in Pyongyang during night cookingwiththehamster
Lights in Pyongyang during night | © nknews.org

Pyongyang is the richest city, being the capital, and those who live there are "wealthy" (in relation to the wealth and lifestyle of the place), they arrived there for merit or more simply are part of the military elite.

Air connections are limited (it is not possible to enter North Korea from South Korea), as well as tourism is managed by the State Tourism Organization: travelers are always accompanied by two guides from whom it is strictly forbidden to leave. Going to DPRK means seeing only what the state wants to show.

DPRK air line - Air Koryo cookingwiththehamster
DPRK air line - Air Koryo | © edition.cnn.com

Cuisine is an interesting topic in this country, both because, as already pointed out, it is a major national problem, and because over the years it has raised a lot of criticism from an ethical point of view.

Generally less spicy than that of the South, the staple of the North Korean diet is characterized by rice and kimchi. Banchan ("side dishes"), juk (porridge-like dish, here the recipe), soups (such as cold with buckwheat noodles, naengmyeon), haeju bibibamp (rice with vegetables, chicken and pork) are added to the traditional meal , mandu (ravioli), fried fish and jeon (salty "pancake") of mung beans, meatballs with mushrooms and vegetables. Gasoline clams are also known, which are set on fire to make up for the lack of gas and electricity.

DPRK cuisine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK cuisine | © wikipedia.org
DPRK cuisine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK cuisine | © uritours.com
DPRK cuisine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK cuisine | © uritours.com
DPRK cuisine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK cuisine | © anjci.com
Petrol clams cookingwiththehamster
Petrol clams | © koryogroup.com

Usually soju and makjeolli are drunk, but especially Taedonggang beer brewed by a state-owned company and exported to China.

In Pyongyang, despite the perennial struggle against capitalism, there are also fast food restaurants where they sell chips and hamburgers, Asian and Italian restaurants: in 1997 Kim Jong-il, a well-known gourmet, sent a delegation of North Korean chefs to learn the art of pizza in Rome by the master pizza maker Ermanno Furlanis. Kim Jong-il had also hired the Japanese Kenji Fujimoto as personal chef and who, in order not to let him escape, had even organized his wedding with the confiscation of documents and passport. He ran away but returned to Pyongyang in 2017, where he opened his own sushi and ramen restaurant - located near the Air China office and the Rakwon Beer Bar, upstairs.

Fast food in Pyongyang cookingwiththehamster
Fast food in Pyongyang | © deviantart.com
Fast food in Pyongyang cookingwiththehamster
Fast food in Pyongyang | © sandiegouniontribune.com
Pizzeria in Pyongyang cookingwiththehamster
Pizzeria in Pyongyang | © flickr.com
Pizzeria in Pyongyang cookingwiththehamster
Pizzeria in Pyongyang | © reuters.com
Kenji Fukimoto in DPRK cookingwiththehamster
Kenji Fukimoto in DPRK | © dailymail.co.uk
Kenji Fukimoto in DPRK cookingwiththehamster
Kenji Fukimoto in DPRK | © youngpioneertours.com
Front of Kenji Fukimoto restaurant cookingwiththehamster
Front of Kenji Fukimoto restaurant | © koryogroup.com

The most controversial aspect is certainly that of the consumption of meat of meat (called "sweet meat") served in the form of a soup called bosintang. This meat has been an important source of livelihood throughout the Korean peninsula in the past, especially during the Japanese occupation (I'm talking about it here) and the Korean War, when people had nothing to eat at all. While today in the South there is a fight against this practice, in the North Kim Jong-un has repeatedly invited the people to eat it to counter the problem of hunger that affects millions of people: the government has campaigned to sponsor the benefits of the nutritional values of this meat.

Bosintang cookingwiththehamster
Bosintang | © wikipedia.org

In this panorama, how is it possible to structure and undertake a fashion reality? The answer lies in rigor. In North Korea people have to wear clothes with a 60s flavor (after all the architecture, as well as the propaganda art and interior design remained crystallized at that time) always perfectly clean and ironed. Bright colors, fabrics such as denim or eccentric pieces such as miniskirts and all street-wear, considered symbols of "Western decadence", are strictly prohibited. Only the elite can wear Western-style clothing (copies imported from China). Most of the clothes are regulation, like the uniforms.

DPRK fashion style cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion style | © koreakonsult.com
DPRK lady soldiers cookingwiththehamster
DPRK lady soldiers | © koreakonsult.com

Even the hairstyles must respect certain codes that refer to the 50s: for women, 18 hairstyles are allowed, 10 for men, and all are exhibited in hairdressing salons so that the customer can choose exclusively among them. Long hair is forbidden, especially for men, the length of which cannot exceed 7 cm.

In order for these rules to be scrupulously respected, as well as morals and the appropriateness of costumes, there is a special section of the police called gyuchaldae ("fashion police"), which checks for people along the streets and gives punishments if necessary.

DPRK women hairstyle cookingwiththehamster
DPRK women hairstyle | © irishmirror.ie
DPRK men hairstyle cookingwiththehamster
DPRK men hairstyle | © irishmirror.ie

The idea of ​​femininity in North Korea is deeply anchored in the past and, at the same time, is glorified for example through the famous "traffic lady", who have become icons of Pyongyang: they are chosen on the basis of their beauty, they cannot have more than 26 years and not even a romantic relationship. The peculiarity of the work of these girls is that they direct a practically non-existent traffic: for private individuals it is in fact very difficult, if not impossible, to own a car. The movements of civilians (almost always by bus or subway, the deepest in the world and one of the most fascinating and characteristic) are allowed only through authorizations that are constantly checked at the check-points. In fact, only military and government officials can have a car. Often on YouTube it is possible to see videos of traffic ladies directing heavy traffic in the capital, in reality they are videos edited by propaganda to give a false image of the city - after all, many photos and testimonies are always unreliable. The truth is, these girls are forced to keep moving mechanically for no real reason.

Traffic lady cookingwiththehamster
Traffic lady | © nknews.org
Traffic ladies cookingwiththehamster
Traffic ladies | © dismagazine.com
Traffic lady cookingwiththehamster
Traffic lady | © pinterest.com
Traffic lady cookingwiththehamster
Traffic lady | © pinterest.com

Remaining on the subject of crystallization of femininity, some girls (all high-ranking military officers) were chosen by Kim Jong-un for the formation of the Moranbong band. It is an attempt to modernize the image of women and music, essentially to try to counter the K-pop that is illegally imported into the North.

Moranbong band  cookingwiththehamster
Moranbong band | © flickrs.com
Moranbong band cookingwiththehamster
Moranbong band | © koreaboo.com

Ri Sol-ju, the dictator's wife, would also have a past linked to pop music as a singer of the Unhashu Orchestra. In 2013 some members would have been victims of executions and for this reason Ri's past would have been totally erased.

Ri Sol-ju as pop singer cookingwiththehamster
Ri Sol-ju as pop singer | © nymag.com

Music in North Korea is not always just considered fun, it is also used to call people back to work: every day starting at 6:00 in the morning from the loudspeakers of the Pyongyang train station it spreads for hours throughout the city spooky music "Where Are You, Dear General?", performed by the North Korean Ponchobo Electronic Ensemble (the country's first electronic pop group). Written by Kim Jong-il, the song was composed on the theme of the 1971 opera "A true daughter of the Party", based on the Korean War. The General he is referring to is obviously Kim Il-sung.

In recent years, the Pyongyang government has declared that the country is growing and for this reason Kim Jong-un wanted to introduce significant modernizations in the field of fashion. Like all information from North Korea, it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

However, between 2017 and 2018 the Center for Research on Clothing (which establishes school uniforms, provides technology to tailors and clothing companies) has published particularly innovative magazines. More than fashion magazines, they are like an inventory of 90's Chinese styles and clothes and you can't find them in the places where tourists usually go.

These magazines target an alleged middle-class middle class willing to spend money on Western-designed clothing, restaurant dinners, tech products, and pets. Women's clothing is more colorful than in the past and features bags and hair accessories, as well as high-heeled shoes. Men's fashion magazines shun Communist military clothing for the first time. In general, a fashion for all seasons is proposed, with elegant and more informal cuts but always and in any case without any reference to street-wear.

Inside there are also the patterns to be able to reproduce the clothes: in North Korea there are hundreds of skilled tailors whose labor costs are negligible to say the least.

All the covers have the Research Center symbol (a mannequin surrounded by the atom symbol) and most of the models used for the photographs have their faces photoshopped - photographs taken from foreign newspapers are used to which faces of northern women are added -Korean.

DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazinecookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com
DPRK fashion magazine cookingwiththehamster
DPRK fashion magazine | © tongiltours.com

In recent years, the Pyongyang government has declared that the country is growing and for this reason Kim Jong-un wanted to introduce significant modernizations in the field of fashion. Like all information from North Korea, it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

However, between 2017 and 2018 the Center for Research on Clothing (which establishes school uniforms, provides technology to tailors and clothing companies) has published particularly innovative magazines. More than fashion magazines, they are like an inventory of 90's Chinese styles and clothes and you can't find them in the places where tourists usually go.

These magazines target an alleged middle-class middle class willing to spend money on Western-designed clothing, restaurant dinners, tech products, and pets. Women's clothing is more colorful than in the past and features bags and hair accessories, as well as high-heeled shoes. Men's fashion magazines shun Communist military clothing for the first time. In general, a fashion for all seasons is proposed, with elegant and more informal cuts but always and in any case without any reference to street-wear.

Inside there are also the patterns to be able to reproduce the clothes: in North Korea there are hundreds of skilled tailors whose labor costs are negligible to say the least.

All the covers have the Research Center symbol (a mannequin surrounded by the atom symbol) and most of the models used for the photographs have their faces photoshopped - photographs taken from foreign newspapers are used to which faces of northern women are added -Korean.

Siuniju cosmetics factory cookingwiththehamster
Siuniju cosmetics factory | © rpdcorea.medium.com
Siuniju cosmetics factory cookingwiththehamster
Siuniju cosmetics factory | © rpdcorea.medium.com
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory | © dagospia.com
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory | © corriere.it
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jung-un visiting the factory | © panorama.it

It also seems that North Korea wants to exploit this industry to push the online market (which I remember being a purely internal reality in the country). According to NK News, cosmetics produced in the Sinuiju factory (in China probably via Taobao) were put on sale online: the main brand is Pomhyanggi ("spring perfume") and is the number one in North Korea for sales .

Pomhyanggi cosmetics cookingwiththehamster
Pomhyanggi cosmetics | © kkfonline.com
Pomhyanggi cosmetics cookiingwiththehamster
Pomhyanggi cosmetics | © kkfonline.com

On the manmulsang portal (also translated into Chinese and English) other products in addition to beauty products are also sold, thanks to a non-direct e-commerce: there are addresses and telephone numbers of companies, but online purchases cannot be made. The company that manages this website is, among other things, the same that operates in the electronic payments sector and promises to integrate online payments on mobile phones and computers, expanding compatibility with other cards from various North Korean banks.

Manmulsang website  cookingwiththehamster
Manmulsang website | © manmulsang.com.kp

The Sili ("true profit") site was also launched, which allows electronic payments and online reservations for expensive flights and restaurants in Pyongyang. It is not clear what is specifically meant by "electronic payments", probably referring to those that can be made with the debit card launched in 2005 by the North East Asia Bank of DPRK.

sili website cookingwiththehamster
Sili website | © nknews.org

The world of technology and beauty also meet in the first North Korean app entirely dedicated to female photo editing: bomhyanggi 1.0 is in fact the first digital application that allows you to see yourself with make-up on your face and receive beauty advice.

Bomhyanggi 1.0 cookingwiththehamster
Bomhyanggi 1.0 | © pambianconews.com

Perhaps behind the development of all these innovations there is the desire to indulge people's vanity, or more likely there is the ever greater impossibility of suppressing the innovative stimuli of South Korea, whose productions increasingly arrive in format pirate.

Jangmadang is the name used to indicate the North Korean markets where a little bit of everything is sold (fruit, clothes, household products). During the famine of the 1990s, they multiplied like wildfire as a black market for food, as government rations weren't enough. Today, this is where contraband products are found: films, CDs, cassettes, drama in USB key format and cosmetics. So, for the first time in many years, an entire generation (that of millennials) wants to imitate the Western lifestyle of neighboring South Korea. By secretly listening to K-pop and selling drama, some young North Koreans want to dress up trendy and shopping in malls, the largest of which is Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, so popular that in 2016 it recorded 20,000 visits; in 2018 it even launched its own website with a guide to shops and restaurant details.

Jangmadang cookingwiththehamster
Jangmadang | © wordpress.com
Jangmadang cookingwiththehamster
Jangmadang | © north-korea-visit.lottie.com
Pyongyang Department Store No 1 cookingwiththehamster
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 | © wikipedia.org
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 cookingwiththehamster
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 | © commons.wikimedia.org

In 2019 Kim Jong-un then made an inspection visit to the new Taesong shopping center, in Pyongyang, and in the same year he inaugurated the new city Samjiyon (defined as the "ideal city"), near Mount Paektu (where it is said the father was born). Apartments, hotels, ski slopes, a hospital, a North Korean history museum and even a winter games stadium are said to have been built. Due to the scarcity of resources, the work has been postponed for ten years: for this reason it is thought that many young people were involved during the summer holidays, as well as people reduced to slavery after trying to escape from North Korea.

Kim Jong-un at Taesong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un at Taesong | © tgcom24.mediaset.it
Kim Jong-un at Taesong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un at Taesong | © tgcom24.mediaset.it
Kim Jong-un at Taesong cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un at Taesong | © tgcom24.mediaset.it
Kim Jong-un at Samjiyon  cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un at Samjiyon | © ilpost.it
Kim Jong-un at Samjiyon  cookingwiththehamster
Kim Jong-un at Samjiyon | © ilpost.it
Samjiyon cookingwiththehamster
Samjiyon | © ilpost.it

As already repeated several times, talking about North Korea is very difficult because it is both the most closed and controlled country in the world, and because information is always and constantly manipulated. However, it remains an interesting nation to study and deepen from a historical and anthropological point of view, it is certainly unique in the world.