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North Koreans ‘ordered’ to style their hair like Kim Jong-un

According to new reports, the leader of North Korea is clamping down on long hair. Could it actually be true this time?

We've heard this story before. North Korea, the mysterious hermit kingdom with the not-so-funny megalomaniac dictator, is apparently ordering all its young men to get a haircut. Not just any cut, though: specifically, the formidable Brylcreamed bouffant of their leader, Kim Jong-Un. 

According to reports in South Korea's Chosunilbo, North Korean authorities have just launched a new purge on male citizens with hair longer than two centimetres – enforcing a “tonsorial diktat” to anyone who fails to comply. One Pyongyang source even claimed that “university student monitors are walking around with scissors and cutting off the hair of offenders.”

The country’s men have instead been instructed to pay homage to their leader by emulating his much-mocked – but admittedly quite edgy – trademark cut. Known as the “ambitious” style, it allows for only a mountainous sweep of slicked-back hair, with a razor-sharp shave around the ears and back.

The paper also claims that women are required to keep their hair short and in a bobbed cut – like Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju. In fact, the only people in North Korea allegedly allowed to have long hair are “performers”.

“Since last year, North Koreans have been ordered to crack down on capitalist ideology and culture,” explained one think-tank researcher. “The crackdown on long hair seems aimed at getting young people in shape for the seventh general assembly of the Workers Party.”

Given that the country has enforced strict haircare regimes before – it previously published a selection of 28 approved haircuts for men and women – this news isn't quite as unbelievable as it should be. However, the last time a similar story was reported, it was quickly dismissed as a hoax. It seems that people are eager to take whatever information they can get on the great enigma of North Korea. 

Head here to read our longread feature on the rise of fashion in North Korea