Elle Magazine Retreats From "North Korean Chic" Trend After Backlash

Elle Magazine Retreats From "North Korean Chic" Trend After Backlash

After garnering unwanted public attention for a decision to make “North Korea Chic” one of its 2013 Fall Fashion trends, Elle Magazine pulled an image of a North Korean soldier from the online version of Joe Zee’s September “A to Zee” column and issued the following statement:

The edition of Joe Zee’s A to Zee column that ran in the September 2013 issue of the magazine stirred some controversy that was addressed in the Letters section of the November issue. Here is the official statement from ELLE regarding the story, with the full text of the initial response below: We regret the reference to North Korea in our post on the season’s military trend, and have removed the image. We apologize to those we offended.

Max Fisher of the Washington Post, who first reported the story, captured a screen grab of the photo “in case the article disappears mysteriously from Elle’s site, just as the Asma al-Assad profile did from Vogue’s site when backlash mounted.” 

The “North Korea Chic” article did seemingly disappear, and was replaced with the trend “Naval,” but the comments are left over from the original article, in which, according to Fisher:

Elle’s creative director, Joe Zee, writes that “North Korea Chic” is known for its “take no prisoners tailoring,” which is presumably not a play on North Korea’s practice of kidnapping foreign civilians and holding them captive for years or decades at a time. Zee compares it favorably to other military-themed fashion trends, adding that North Korea Chic is “edgier, even dangerous.”

Ken Kato, director of Human Rights in Asia told The Telegraph, “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.”