There's news this morning that would make the late Kim Jong-Il smile: experts say that North Korea is about two weeks away from being able to test out nukes, but more importantly his daughter-in-law has adopted Kim's taste for fancy things by toting a handbag worth 16 times the monthly wage of the average North Korean. Ri Sol-ju, Kim Jong-un's wife/mystery woman, was pictured this week toting with what looks to be a Dior (patent?) leather handbag. "If it is not a knockoff, the bag’s going price in Seoul is the equivalent of $1,600, about 16 times the monthly wage of some of North Korea’s best-paid workers," writes The New York Times Choe Sang-Hun.
The Daily Mail (of course) has Ri's picture, and surmise that the handbag is actually Dior's "evening pouch in black leather" (pictured right). A harsh dictator's wife's taste for luxe does bring to mind one Ms. Asma al Assad and her passion for luxurious online shopping sprees, but don't forget that Kim Jong-il had his flair for fashion: The Wall Street Journal reported in 2010 that North Korea's dear leader at the time would only wear Moreschi shoes ($465—about four times the average monthly wage of a North Korean), and that he had a thing for Omega watches, Perrier water and Martell Cognac. His son, the new dear leader, appears to have inherited the same taste for Omegas, reported The Korea Times.
Slightly more disturbing than someone owning a fancy handbag while their nation flails in poverty? Today's Bloomberg report that, "North Korea is technically capable of conducting a nuclear test in as little as two weeks."
A study published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and satellite imagery shows that North Korea has constructed an underground tunnel that would contain a nuclear explosion. North Korea said they conducted a nuclear tests in 2006, and claimed that in 2009 they tested a weapon "as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb," and this tunnel is right around those two sites. "A third test would be the first authorized by new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who took power after the death of his father in December," reports Bloomberg.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.