From K:WAVE to K:BEAUTYThe hit Korean drama "Crash Landing on You" has not only won fans globally, but it has also highlighted a secret trend in North Korea: the sale of Korean cosmetics in the Jangmadang markets.
This phenomenon showcases the increasing influence of the Korean Wave in North Korea, with locals getting inspired by the styles, speech, and fashion seen in South Korean movies and dramas. According to many who have escaped North Korea, adopting these South Korean styles is seen as being fashionable in the North.
Following this trend, there has been a growing focus on skincare and the use of cosmetics in North Korea. In 2018, Kim Jong-un himself directed the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory to up their game to match the standards of international luxury brands. This move promoted the rise of popular local brands such as Bomhyanggi, Milky Way, Mt. Geumgang, and Mirae. However, despite the availability of local products, North Korean women have a clear preference for South Korean cosmetics, favouring them over even American and European brands, which are easily available in the Jangmadang markets. It is not just common people; even high-profile individuals like Ri Sol-ju are known to use South Korean products, specifically the Sulwhasoo brand. These South Korean cosmetics have become symbols of luxury, often gifted in high-end ceremonies or included in dowries.