A suspected North Korean assassin’s LOL shirt was available to buy online within hours

From TV to t-shirt.
From TV to t-shirt.
Image: Lim Se-young/News1 via Reuters
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There is seemingly nothing that can’t be printed on a shirt and monetized nowadays.

Within hours of the emergence of a grainy CCTV image showing one of the suspected assassins of Kim Jong-Nam, an older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, wearing a shirt printed with “LOL,” a seller on China’s biggest online marketplace already had a lookalike for sale.

The South China Morning Post reports that a Taobao listing, which called the shirt the “same Tee worn by North Korean female spy,” was removed after going viral on the internet. The seller was asking 6,324 yuan (about $920) for it.

The woman show wearing the “LOL” shirt was reportedly detained in the Kuala Lumpur airport where the assassination took place. One suspect, according to a police official who spoke to The Telegraph, thought what they were doing was a “prank,” perhaps explaining the bizarre clothing choice.

The attempt to sell a top resembling the one worn by a suspected assassin underscores how quickly apparel sellers, especially those working on a small scale online, can cash in on the news. Typically, the source material is less crass and grisly, though. Taobao is known for rapidly turning around copies of items worn by celebrities.

It happens in the US, as well. Last week, for instance, the inadvertent rallying cry US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell gave to the left was quickly turned into t-shirts available for purchase. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said in defense of the vote to silence senator Elizabeth Warren during a tense debate about attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. By the following morning, the site Redbubble, which puts prints on shirts and other items for users and offers them a marketplace to sell them, had hundreds of shirts with various renditions of “She persisted” available to buy.