North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ditched his trademark Mao-style suit for gray slacks, a white T-shirt-like undershirt and a wide-brimmed straw hat — a rare sartorial move into casual dress that could reflect the record-high temperatures that have descended on parts of Asia since July, as well as Kim's growing confidence and optimism following his agreement with President Donald Trump to pursue denuclearization for the Korean Peninsula.
North Korean state media released new photographs this week of Kim in his summery clothes as he inspected a fish-pickling factory alongside his wife Ri Sol-ju. In the photos, Kim is accompanied by an entourage of officials in full, tightly buttoned up military uniforms while North Korea's first lady is seen carrying her husband's jacket on her arm. Temperatures in North Korea have been stuck above 100 degrees for weeks.
"Kim is trying to make himself a more familiar and accessible leader to the North Korean people," Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on the North Korean leadership, told British newspaper The Telegraph.
"A few months ago, he was touring military sites in formal clothing to demonstrate his power and dignity; things have changed now because he has promised to build the nation’s economy and improve the people’s standards of living."