What Kim Jong-un wore to the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore, and what it means

What Kim Jong-un wore to the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore, and what it means

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US President Donald Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore.
Photo: Reuter

As always, Kim Jong-un was clad in his favourite Mao-style suit, wore the same horn-rimmed glasses, and maintained his trademark high-cut hairstyle. He didn’t carry a national lapel pin, and wore heeled shoes when he exchanged historic handshakes with President Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Just for fun, here’s a closer look at the young North Korean leader’s appearance during the summit in Singapore, and what it might imply:

Mao-style suit

Media had speculated before the summit that Kim may put on a suit and tie instead of his trademark dark button-up suit (that is decades out of date). After all, he wore a silver-gray Western-style suit in January when he delivered a New Year’s speech that expressed his intent of sending an Olympic delegation at the start of his charm offensive.

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But the 34-year-old showed up in the same old communist uniform for the summit. Some observers say Kim’s outfit indicates he wants to maintain his country’s socialist identity even though he’s now pushing to improve ties with the outside world.

Badge ... or lack thereof

Kim didn’t put a lapel pin with the images of his late father and grandfather who ruled successively before his inauguration in late 2011, which he usually does on his jacket. On the other hand, he has occasionally appeared without them recently. Every dutiful North Korean must wear them as part of a personality cult surrounding the Kim family, which is why its absence is noteworthy.

Analysts say Kim’s no-badge appearance may reflect his push to open a new era by staying out of the shadows of his predecessors.

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Taller Kim

Kim is about 170 centimeters (5.8 feet) tall, about 20 centimeters (7.2 inches) shorter than Trump, according to media reports. But when the two stood together during Tuesday’s meeting, the difference in their heights wasn’t that noticeable.

South Korean media quickly speculated Kim may have put on platform shoes or elevated shoe inserts. Photos from their signing ceremony showed Kim wearing black shoes with heels though it wasn’t immediately known how high they were.

Kim’s short and pudgy father Kim Jong-il was reported to have favoured platform shoes and a bouffant hairstyle to appear taller. 

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Hairstyle

Kim has a sweptback hairstyle with the sides and back shaved neatly, and experts say it’s part of his efforts to model his appearance on his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who founded North Korea in 1948. Kim Jong Un also adopted his grandfather’s gestures and regular public speeches.

Perhaps the hairstle is also to add height to Kim's appearance?

Glasses

These days, Kim often wears a pair of horn-rimmed glasses.

In March, TV footage showed Kim putting on his glasses to read South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s letter conveyed by visiting South Korean envoys, though he didn’t wear them when he met President Moon. South Korean media speculated Kim’s sight may have deteriorated due to diabetes caused by obesity, and that he’s likely short-sighted.

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