May 16, 2016 11:56
North Korea's new elite dress in designer clothes, sip cappuccinos and get plastic surgery, in stark contrast to the meager living conditions of their compatriots who make less than US$10 a month, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The daily coined the term "Pyonghattan" to describe their privileged enclave in the North Korean capital.
These luxuries are possible because "a merchant class has created a whole layer of nouveaux riches in the capital city." These so-called "Donju," or "masters of money…usually hold official government positions -- in ministries or the military, running state businesses abroad or trying to attract investment into North Korea. On the side, they trade in everything they can get their hands on, including flat-screen TVs and apartments."
"We're supposed to dress conservatively in North Korea, so people like going to the gym so they can show off their bodies, show some skin," said Lee Seo-hyeon (24) who was part of the elite until she defected from North Korea 18 months ago.
Lee told the daily North Korean women "like to wear leggings and tight tops. Elle is the most popular brand among women, while men prefer Adidas and Nike."
Among other popular brands are Uniqlo, Zara and H&M.
One foreigner living in Pyongyang said, "If it weren't for the little badges, they could be South Koreans," referring to the pins featuring nation founder Kim Il-sung or his son and former leader, Kim Jong-il, that North Koreans are required to wear on their chests. "They're paying 10 to 15 euros for a meal."
There are five or six fledgling taxi companies in Pyongyang, and citizens keep dogs as pets instead of eating them.
The Washington Post said North Korean women often style themselves after Kim Jong-un's wife Ri Sol-ju and wearing brighter and more stylish clothes.
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