Kim Jong Un updates his style along with his arsenal

Clad in light grey, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un targets a softer image in his New Year address to the nation as he offers to open a dialogue with the South.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded his usual Mao-collared outfits for a new look in his New Year's speech in Pyongyang.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded his usual Mao-collared outfits for a new look in his New Year's speech in Pyongyang.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • A new year, a new look for Mr Kim Jong Un?

For his New Year's speech, Mr Kim, the leader of North Korea, traded his usual atonal, Mao-collared outfits for what looked like the sort of silver-grey suit and matching tie that come straight from the elder statesmen costume department.

It was a choice seemingly calculated to, well, dress up his message of outreach to South Korea, in which he urged talks over the North's possible participation in the Winter Olympics in the South next month.

North Korea's top leaders have been known for their drab, peasant-style outerwear, with Mr Kim's father Kim Jong Il favouring Mao-style jackets. But his son, in addition to ramping up his country's weapons of mass destruction, appears intent on modernising his country's look, too.

"He has dressed like that before - a banker, wearing Armani," said Dr Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. "There has been a lot of speculation that he is trying to make North Korea look more modern and connected. His father's Mao suits looked ridiculous in the 21st century."

Mr Kim's lightly striped jacket came with a matching tie and slacks. His trademark hairstyle was carefully coiffed and, in a twist, it was shorn above the ears, leaving what has been dubbed a "trapezoid shaped" haircut.

MODERN LOOK

There has been a lot of speculation that he is trying to make North Korea look more modern and connected. His father's Mao suits looked ridiculous in the 21st century.

POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR ROBERT KELLY

The soft tones of his outfit did not carry through to his message, in which he boasted of having "a nuclear button on the desk in my office".

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2018, with the headline 'Kim Jong Un updates his style along with his arsenal'. Print Edition | Subscribe