Thursday 17 April 2014

Elle magazine in US accused over North Korean 'military chic' fashion shoot

Human rights activist condemns magazine's 'deplorable ignorance' after its website features image of North Korean soldier and model in camouflage-pattern trousers

The shoot for autumn fashions, which appears in a feature entitled 'Fall's 2013 Top Fashion Trends', has angered Ken Kato, director of Human Rights in Asia

Elle magazine has been accused of "deplorable ignorance" for a fashion shoot on the theme of North Korean "military chic."

The web site for the US edition of the magazine incorporates an image of a North Korean soldier looking through binoculars with a model in camouflage-pattern trousers available from the Shopbop web site that cost $425. The "slouchy" fatigues have "a bold, androgynous look," the web site adds.

"Some iteration of the military trend stomps down the runways every few seasons," the Elle web site states. "This time, it's edgier, even dangerous, with sharp buckles and clasps and take-no-prisoners tailoring."

The shoot for autumn fashions, which appears in a feature entitled 'Fall's 2013 Top Fashion Trends', has angered Ken Kato, director of Human Rights in Asia.

"If they knew anything about North Korea - more then 2 million people starved to death by the regime, child slaves, public executions, infanticides in detention facilities, threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes - they would never have shown North Korean military fatigues as a fashion trend," he told

He added that infanticide only occurs in detention facilities because prisoners who become pregnant after being raped by the guards at political prison camps are executed.

In October, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea heard testimony from Roberta Cohen, a scholar at the Brookings Institution in Washington, citing the experiences of women in detention along the border with China.

"The women are sometimes given injections to kill the foetus or to induce labour," she said. "Or guards are seen kicking the belly of a pregnant woman or jumping up and down on her."

In an earlier report, based on testimony from dozens of escaped prisoners and compiled by the US-based Committee for Human Rights in Asia, one woman told of being forced to assist injection-induced labours and then watching as the baby was suffocated with a wet towel in front of its mother.

Escaped prisoners also told of babies being buried alive or left face down on the ground to die. Guards carried out these killings in order to prevent the survival of half-Chinese babies.

"And these are the acts that guards wearing the 'fashions' that Elle is promoting are carrying out every day," said Kato.

A request for a comment was submitted to Elle's offices in New York and London, but no reply has been received.

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