Word is spreading that Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s supreme leader, is using special footwear to add inches to his height.
The news broke after South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo did a deep dive into Jong-un’s historic first meeting with their country’s president, Moon Jae-in. If Google Translate is to be believed, seven experts analysed 12 hours of video footage and concluded that, from the angle of Jong-un’s shoes, he was wearing those height-adding insoles advertised in airplane magazines.
If Chosun Ilbo isn’t telling tall tales, this could be bad for Kim. Not for his image — we’re sure the bump in height makes him look great — but for his feet. And at a time when bulky brogues reign as supreme as Kim himself, cramming your toes into footwear from vertiginous angles is as unnecessary as it is uncomfortable.
Coming in at 1.7 metres (5ft 5in), Kim is five centimetres shorter than the average South Korean man. Height does not the man make, but size obviously matters to the leader of the nuclear state. So, we put together a collection of altitude-altering sneakers to help him inch towards his lofty goals.
From low-key lifts to absolute units, here are the best sneakers to help Kim Jong-un reach new heights.
ALEXANDER MCQUEEN EXAGGERATED-SOLE LEATHER SUEDE AND MESH SNEAKER
Sole height: 4.5cm
Kim can't go from stilettos to stilts — he'll need a small size-hike to get him started. Though it has ‘Exaggerated Sole’ in its name, this Alexander McQueen offering is a mere baby step that wouldn’t boost Jong-un to average height. However, it does wear North Korea’s colours, so there’s that.
NIKE VANDAL 2K
Sole height: 5.1cm
These platformed ball-shoes are deceptively diminutive but would still bump Mr Kim up to a normal height. Plus, his former classmates at Switzerland’s Liebefeld-Steinholzi school (where he attended under the pseudonym ‘Pak’) attest to his love of Nikes. In fact, he probably already owns these.
PUMA FENTY CLEATED CREEPER
Sole height: 5.5cm
Rihanna’s normal Creeper is clunky, but sometimes one sole isn’t enough. To rise above Moon Jae-in’s 172cm (plus whatever benefits his dress shoes provide), Kim will need the cleated version.
EYTYS ANGEL LEATHER BLACK
Sole height: 6cm
Not only are these a sizeable upsize, these Angel Leathers fit Kim’s tastes. The black lace-ups will replace his other polished brogues seamlessly while providing the supreme leader with supreme comfort.
BALENCIAGA TRIPLE S
Sole height: 6.5cm
Wearing Balenciaga’s Triple S would cement Kim as the style icon many are crowning him. He’s already moved away from the Mao Zedong-imitating suits his dad clung to, favouring western-style suits by Armani et al. Lacing up in the Triple S would rocket that narrative into overdrive, and the extra 6.5cm would see him reach the average height requirement for runway models.
OPENING CEREMONY x BUFFALO LONDON HIGH-TOP PLATFORM SNEAKER
Sole height: 7cm
Out of all the sneakers on this list, the Spice Girls’ beloved Buffalo London would be the most diplomatic choice. The United Kingdom and the oddly named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea haven’t always been chummy. They were on opposing sides during the Cold War and relations were only established in 2000. Since then, Bend it Like Beckham being the first film to air in the DPRK proved a cultural connection existed between the two states, one that Kim stomping around in Baby Spice classics could only improve.
MILEY CYRUS x CONVERSE CHUCK TAYLOR ALL STAR PLATFORM HIGH TOP
Sole height: 8cm
Converse’s Chuck Taylor has a star, North Korea’s Flag has a star. The Chuck Taylor is America’s OG basketball shoe, Kim Jong-un has a fascination with American basketball. Miley Cyrus’s Chuck Taylor All Star Platform High Top is tall, Kim Jong-un is short. This one sells itself.
GUCCI PEGGY PLATFORM
Sole height: 10cm
North Korean textbooks teach that Kim Jong-il was born in Mount Paektu in 1942 (the same place legend says the country originated), and the earth rejoiced. Winter changed to spring, a swallow descended from the sky and a double rainbow appeared. If wearing the Triple S would be a step away from tradition, wearing Gucci’s Peggy Platform would be a good way for Kim to honour it. He’d wear a double rainbow on his feet and perpetuate a deity that pesky historians adamantly deny.
BALENCIAGA x CROC PLATFORM
Sole height: 13cm
An absolute unit if there ever was one, Balenciaga’s Croc Platform colab would careen Kim to a towering six-feet in height. South Korean president Moon Jae-in would practically have to tippy toe to look him in the eye. He’d be 25 centimetres taller than his father — who also loved high heels but could never dream of eclipsing five feet. And, with his head in the clouds, that ‘Rocket Man’ nickname would take on a whole new meaning.