September 24, 2023

‘Oppa Ganbu Style’: Why growth medications are popular among North Korean elites

Experts say height and appearance has become a symbol of status and power in DPRK

After an outbreak of COVID-19 last spring, North Korean state media reported that pharmacies struggled to provide medicine for treating infections, an issue that was apparently serious enough to require Kim Jong Un to directly intervene.

But photos obtained by NK News show that even as the country dealt with the unprecedented health crisis, pharmacies still managed to offer a type of cosmetic product that has been growing in popularity in the DPRK for years — hormone treatments and supplements aimed at making people taller.