North Korea isn’t exactly renown for its footwear industry, but the recent appearance of a new pair of sneakers on North Korean television has caused quite a stir in the Asian media.

Featuring an “extra-supportive heel section” and a red design with a series of white stripes, the North Korean design bears a striking resemblance to Japanese company Asics’ own model.

Is this a simple coincidence or are we looking at an all-out rip-off?

A spokesperson from Pyongyang-based RyeonWon Footwear appeared on television to unveil the new shoes, stating that they had been designed with atheletes in mind, especially weightlifters:

“When lifting heavy objects, weightlifters put a tremendous amount of pressure on the heel section of the foot. For this reason, we have engineered a new type of shoe that incorporates a wooden support in the heel to provide additional support for athletes engaged in these activities.”

Comparing the new North Korean shoes (top) with Asics’ own (bottom), we couldn’t help but feel that perhaps the media was being unnecessarily critical. With thousands of sports shoe designs produced every year, we’re bound to see a few similarities from time to time.

Reporters are suggesting, however, that there is more here than meets the eye, and are eyeing the shoes’ chief engineer incredibly suspiciously…

SeChang Kim, a 67-year-old North Korean who, at one time, left the country and settled in Japan, is listed as the new shoes’ designer. Kim spent many years in Japan before making the unexpected move of returning to live in North Korea where the shoe company was established and has grown ever since.

While there’s no way of proving that Mr. Kim stole the design, the Asian media is quick to point out that the engineer has gone on record as being a fan of the NBA and footwear made by companies like Nike, and that his time spent in Japan has very likely played a role here.

Red shoes, near identical white stripes, an ultra-supportive heel section for when lifting heavy weights… Hmmm.

What do you think, guys? How cynical are we feeling today?

Source: Livedoor News