What Kim's suit, shoes and hairstyle tell us about him
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and U.S. President Donald Trump shake hands prior to their meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore Tuesday, June 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press
Published Tuesday, June 12, 2018 7:05AM EDT
SINGAPORE -- Kim Jong Un was clad in his favourite Mao-style suit, wore the same horn-rimmed glasses and maintained his trademark high-cut hairstyle. He didn't carry a national lapel pin and wore heeled shoes when he exchanged historic handshakes with President Donald Trump on Tuesday.
Here's a closer look at the young North Korean leader's appearance during the summit in Singapore:
Media had speculated before the summit that Kim may put on a suit and tie instead of his trademark dark button-up Mao-style suit. He wore a silver-grey Western-style suit in January when he delivered a New Year's speech that expressed his intent of sending an Olympic delegation at the start of his charm offensive.
But the 34-year-old showed up in the same old communist uniform for the summit. Some observers say Kim's outfit indicates he wants to maintain his country's socialist identity though he's now pushing to improve ties with the outside world.
Kim didn't put on his jacket a lapel pin with the images of his late father and grandfather who ruled successively before his inauguration in late 2011. He has occasionally appeared without them recently. Every dutiful North Korean must wear them as part of a personality cult surrounding the Kim family.
Analysts say Kim's no-badge appearance may reflect his push to open a new era by staying out of the shadows of his predecessors.
Kim is about 170 centimetres (5.8 feet) tall, about 20 centimetres (7.2 inches) shorter than Trump, according to media reports. But when the two stood together during Tuesday's meeting, the difference in their heights wasn't that noticeable.
South Korean media quickly speculated Kim may have put on platform shoes or elevated shoe inserts. Photos from their signing ceremony showed Kim wearing black shoes with heels though it wasn't immediately known how high they were.
Kim's short and pudgy father Kim Jong Il was reported to have favoured platform shoes and a bouffant hairstyle to appear taller.
Kim has a sweptback hairstyle with the sides and back shaved neatly, and experts say it's part of his efforts to model his appearance on his grandfather Kim Il Sung who founded North Korea in 1948. Kim Jong Un also adopted his grandfather's gestures and regular public speeches.
During Kim Il Sung's rule, North Korea was more affluent than Kim Jong Il's. A North Korea under Kim Jong Il largely resorted to outside aid to help feed its people.
These days, Kim often wears a pair of horn-rimmed glasses.
In March, TV footage showed Kim putting on his glasses to read Moon's letter conveyed by visiting South Korean envoys, though he didn't wear them when he met them. South Korean media speculated Kim's sight may have deteriorated due to diabetes caused by obesity and that he's likely short-sighted.