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Report: Kim Jong Un's love of luxury overrides his policy against 'disease' of imports

The North Korean leader has called the worship of imported items a "disease," but he has been seen in public wearing upscale fashions from Switzerland.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea's Kim Jong Un and wife, Ri Sol Ju, have been photographed in public wearing imported luxury items, but the North Korean leader said import worship is a disease. File Photo by KCNA/Yonhap
North Korea's Kim Jong Un and wife, Ri Sol Ju, have been photographed in public wearing imported luxury items, but the North Korean leader said import worship is a "disease." File Photo by KCNA/Yonhap

SEOUL, July 17 (UPI) -- North Korea's Kim Jong Un has condemned the "worship" of imported goods, but his own policies are not preventing the North Korean leader from wearing luxury fashions from the West.

Kim's initiative to stamp out a North Korean love of foreign brands such as Nike and Adidas was evident during a KCNA television sports broadcast, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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The program promoted tennis as a mainstream sport, but the file images of North Korean sports spectators wearing branded Adidas items ran with blacked out logos on Thursday.

Kim has promoted athletic activities as a national pastime since fully assuming power in 2012, and in turn demand for foreign athletic gear has increased in the reclusive country.

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The North Korean leader has condemned the popularity of foreign-made goods, and has called the worship of imported items a "disease." In his New Year's message, Kim said North Koreans must learn to love domestic goods.

Kim had said all North Korean factories and enterprises must get rid of imported raw materials, and production must be localized.

But neither Kim nor his wife, Ri Sol Ju, the first lady of North Korea, may espouse the directive.

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According to South Korean news network YTN, Kim and Ri have been photographed in public wearing imported fashions from Switzerland and Britain.

Kim likes to wear a Swiss Movado watch worth thousands of dollars and has tailor-made suits that use luxury British fabrics.

Ri has been seen carrying a Christian Dior handbag worth around $2,000 and wears Valentino outerwear in public. South Korea press reported the couple have installed a German-made sauna in their residence and that Ri exclusively uses Aptamil, an expensive German baby formula for her child that costs $80 per pack.

RELATED Malnutrition, disease up among North Korean children, says U.N.

Per capita income is around $1,200 in North Korea, according to South Korea's central bank, and young children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, according to the U.N.

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