There’s been a lot of online chatter about the madcap antics of North Korea’s “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong Un. The portly dictator’s fashion sense has also been foisted on an unwitting public, with reports and rumours emerging from within the guarded state that state mandated hair cuts and fashions are being enforced throughout the land!
A recent Huffington Post article discussed the verity of some of these claims, denouncing some as nothing more than rumour. But it does seem that some of the rumours are indeed based on fact.
The first and most substantial style rumour is that the boyish leader has ordered male students to cut their hair in a style identical to his. Radio Free Asia’s claims alluded to an unwritten directive issued to student in March of 2014. But the claim has been rebuffed, with journalists and recent visitors claiming no visible change in the students’ hair styles.
Then there was the claim that the North Korean government had developed a list of 28 state-approved hairstyles for men and women. Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV reported the matter 2013, but NKNews has since said the images are simply barber shop posters, pictures which inspire possible cuts, and definitely not mandatory styles.
But it would seem that North Korea’s government does concern itself with some hairstyle policy making. In 2005, the BBC reported on North Korean state media campaigns suggesting the adoption of official hairstyles. The same programmes shamed people with long hair, with one state TV show going so far as to claim that long hair affects intelligence by using up the brain’s energy!
It’s strange and surreal to think of living within this kind of environment. In the West, we prize individual style and fashion sense, so it’s odd to think of the effect these kinds of laws could have here. We’re so used to looking the way we want to and controlling our own health and beauty, and it’s a critical feature of self determination and freedom. So the next time you visit a salon or pick up a new style, spare a thought for the North Koreans and the wacky dictates of their infamous ruler!
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