The Debate

Forget Smartphones: N. Korea has a Designer Clothes Industry

Plus, Kim il-Sung’s grandson will attend the same university as the French president. DPRK links.

Some North Korea links:

Radio Free Asia reports that North Korea’s First Lady Ri Sol Ju’s acute fashion sense has created a huge demand among Pyongyang elites for counterfeit designer clothing. North Korean tailors are now copying designer brands from China, Japan, and the U.S., including Burberry and Chanel. One Pyongyang resident tells Radio Free Asia: “North Korea’s local markets are flooded with imitations of luxury fashion brands.”

Speaking of the Kim family, Kim Han-sol, grandson of the late North Korean leader Kim il-Sung, has reportedly been admitted to the Paris Institute of Political Studies where he will begin studying political science next year. The university is the same one that French President Francois Hollande attended.

Yonhap News Agency is reporting that when Choe Ryong-hae, the vice marshal of the North Korean People’s Army, visited China in May, he proposed shrinking the Six-Party Talks to the Four-Party-Talks with Russia and Japan being cut out of the process. China has apparently rejected this proposal given its calls for a resumption of the Six-Party-Talks.

The report comes as China’s envoy to the Six-Party Talks, Wu Dawei, was in Pyongyang this week. Experts tell Yonhap to not expect much in the way of progress. Daily NK has more on the visit.

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The U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues, Ambassador Robert King, will travel to Pyongyang August 30 at the invitation of the DPRK government to discuss the release of Kenneth Bae, a U.S. citizen who’s imprisoned in North Korea.