With China increasingly describing itself as 'the Nazi Germany of the 21st Century', some also say that far from being a dull historical European footnote that should not detract from the seductive authoritarian cut of the uniforms, wearing clothing from the Third Reich is pandering to an enemy that is working hard to build a Fourth.
But fashion experts agree that Koreans look good in Nazi uniforms. "It is often said that clothes make the man," said 49 year-old Professor Kim from Seoul International University, "but the man must also make the clothes. Successful fashion is the fusion of both, and one must be a reflection of the other." In a militarized nation with an overt sense of xenophobia and pure-blooded racial purity, coupled with male-only conscription, subjugation of women and repressed homosexuality, many say the critics should look beyond the bad things the Nazis did and consider the positive things the clothing stands for that reflect Korea today.
In 1988 South Korea finally shook off its authoritarian past after a long struggle for democracy, but this is now widely regarded as a mistake, with the attempt to impose a Western political system on a naturally authoritarian culture typical of the kind of jackbooted cultural imperialism which Korea has fallen victim to before. "We should celebrate Korea's unique pure-blooded culture and desire to crush those in society we consider inferior to us, and dress accordingly." says Professor Kim. In fact many academics argue that North Korea - far from being a totalitarian dictatorship - is merely Koreanism in its purest form, undiluted by foreign influences.
Even before uniforms and swastikas began flooding Seoul's most fashionable clothing stores this season, Nazi imagery had been used to advertise a variety of products including a Korean cosmetic range which evoked memories of Nazi attempts to manufacture soap from the fat of murdered Jews. But the company concerned said that no migrant workers, who many consider to be the Jews of Korea, had been harmed in the production of its cosmetics.
At Nazi-themed bars across Seoul, customers said the criticism of their 'Nazi-chic' fashion was typical of 'foreign criminals' and 'communist elements' who are trying to destabilize Korea and attack Koreans' pure-blooded racial purity.
When asked about why he was wearing an SS uniform and whether he identified with Nazi ideals, English Literature graduate 25 year-old Kim's response was typical "I don't hate them, I don't like them," he told us, "but at least they dressed well."
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