North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju (L) has been copied for her style of makeup, according to defector Kang Na-ra. File Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 21 (UPI) -- North Korean first lady Ri Sol Ju is a source of inspiration for makeup trends in the country, according to a North Korean defector who appeared on a South Korean TV channel.
Kang Na-ra, 24, a defector who appears regularly on South Korean television and social media channels, said Monday in an appearance on TongTong TV, Yonhap's online entertainment news channel, that Ri's style of applying light makeup has a following in North Korea.
North Koreans also emulate the style of South Korean celebrities, but not openly, Kang said. South Korean television programs cannot be received in North Korea, and watching the shows is considered a punishable crime.
Kang, who previously appeared on South Korean TV Red-Cheeked Ramyeon Lab in September to discuss South Korean influences in the North, also said Monday that the North has been promoting the production of better skincare products under Kim Jong Un.
Kim had once said in 2015 North Korea-developed mascara was runny and gave the wearers raccoon eyes, after a visit to Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory, according to Kang.
South Korean makeup trends could be being copied in the North.
According to Kang, there was no North Korean skincare line for men until 2014, when the regime showcased a set of toners and moisturizers exclusively for men.
Ri, who first began making appearances in 2012 after the death of Kim's father Kim Jong Il, has been largely absent from the public eye since September.
Ko Young-hwan, the first North Korean diplomat to escape the country, told South Korea's KBS in November Ri could be quarantining for the safety of her children.
Ko, a frequent commentator in the South, said there are rumors among North Korean sources Ri might be pregnant. Her social standing in Pyongyang depends largely on whether she will be able to produce an heir, Ko said.
In 2013, NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman told The Guardian Kim and Ri have a daughter named Kim Ju Ae. Previous South Korean press reports have suggested the couple has three children, but none of them has been seen in public.