A photograph released by North Korea’s state-run media on Thursday has revealed an interesting fashion statement from the First Lady Ri Sol Ju. What drew people’s attention was the conspicuous absence of a dual portrait lapel pin, which carries the images of former leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, on her jacket and a flashy brooch that took its place. 

This is in contrast to senior cadre members, including Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who accompanied the leader on his ‘field guidance’ tour to a new terminal construction site at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport.   

Daily NK talked to a source in the North to gauge people’s thoughts on this image of Ri. “I feel a sense of pride seeing that the Pyongyang International Airport has facilities that meet global standards but seeing the General’s wife (Ri Sol Ju) with a brooch instead of the lapel pin made me think it’s not all that appropriate as the ‘mother of the nation,” a source in North Pyongan Province who had seen the Party-run Rodong Sinmun photograph said.

Ri Sol Ju spotted wearing a brooch in place of the dual portrait lapel pin while accompanying Kim Jong Un on his tour around the Pyongyang Int’l Airport.

Image: Rodong Sinmun

Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong was also spotted at the event, but unlike Ri, is wearing the lapel pin.

 Image: Rodong Sinmun

“The General’s younger sister was wearing the pin at the event, and some people have been saying that the young Ri seems to enjoy showing off her extravagant tastes,” she added. “Compared to the General’s public appearances sans the pin, people take greater issues with his wife showing up in public with a decorative brooch in its place.” 

Many have criticized the First Lady for encouraging “capitalist tendencies” by wearing such eye-catching attire but without the lapel pin. The practice, even as the First Lady, is hard for members of the public, who have been subject to idolization of leaders all this time, to understand, according to the source. 

“People have also questioned Rodong Sinmun’s decision to publish such an image of Ri Sol Ju at an event in bright colored clothes and a glitzy brooch,” she explained. 

“Her attire is so different from Kim Yo Jong, and Ri Sol Ju is the only one not wearing a lapel pin, so people who follow Rodong Sinmun closely will be critical of this.” 

Earlier in the month, Kim Jong Un appeared without the pin during a tour around a pesticide lab on a military base, stirring up speculation that the younger leader is trying to break out of the shadows of his late father. (Daily NK)

*The content of this article was broadcast to the North Korean people via Unification Media Group.