Kim Jong Un, nuke ambitions and makeup: North Korea's changing face
In sanctions-hit North Korea, women urged to use local makeup, shun foreign brands; dictator's wife Ri Sol Ju, pop band Moranbong the new role models.
North Korean women are said to be fond of foreign makeup brands. But in the face of international sanctions on the Kim Jong Un regime, the government has advised them to opt for domestic cosmetics, and avoid foreign brands, to make them self-sufficient.
Promoting the beauty of one's own country has been a political strategy since the time of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung. This was further strengthened under grandson Kim Jong Un, the present leader, who was educated overseas.
Its neighbour, South Korea, is flourishing, with an international reputation to boot. South Korea releases innovative cosmetics products using natural ingredients.
North Korea has been curbing the import of quality makeup products due to sanctions imposed on it because of its the nuclear programme. Kim Jong Un, who had never done it before, is now visiting cosmetic factories with his wife.
Although major companies such as Chanel export their products to North Korea, there is a black market in these markets.
North Korea is a country where fashion is under governmental control. Kim Jong Un's father Kim Jong Il banned hair-dyeing, blue jeans and clothing with English wording.
The North Korean makeup industry has been invigorated by the arrival of Kim Jong Un's wife, Ri Sol Ju.
Today, women are only allowed to follow the style trends set by the first lady, or the North Korean pop band, Moranbong. These are the permitted role models.
The Pyongyang (capital) cosmetic factory is now exporting its 'Unhazu' brand of cosmetics to Russia.
The Pyongyang factory says it has received a quality assurance certificate from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), but it has not been confirmed.
Most North Koreans still prefer high priced South Korean products as gifts. Though hard to get, they give South Korean cosmetics as a wedding gift because it is considered a symbol of wealth and prestige.
[Autotranslated from Malayalam]