Analysts said it could be a first for a member of an orchestra performing at an official event in North Korea this week to wear a t-shirt with the face of leader Kim Jong Un, according to video footage from state media.
An orchestra conductor wore the white black and white t-shirt with Kim’s face printed on the front at a defense exhibition opening ceremony in which Kim was attending. The pictures were broadcast on Tuesday by Korean television broadcaster Central.
“It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for North Korea to make clothing with the face of a Kim leader,” said Rachel Minyoung Lee, an analyst for 38 North, a US program tracking North Korea.
North Koreans routinely wear badges with pictures of the country’s leaders, but the photos, paintings, and other imagery are treated very carefully in a country adored by the Kim family, who have ruled for three generations.
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“The portraits and photos of Kim leaders are sacred in North Korea,” Lee said. “They must not be scribbled, folded, or otherwise damaged. With that in mind, I imagine that the t-shirt the performers wore was meant for that one special occasion and shouldn’t be worn and washed in everyday life. ”
The defense exhibition featured a number of North Korean weapons, but it also included paintings and other images of Kim.