The order to shaggy-haired North Korean men couldn’t be clearer: Get a trim like Kim.
The reclusive communist country is waging a hair war, telling its male population to lose the long locks, cut the coiffures and mow the mane to conform to “socialist style” — no longer than two inches.
Even hair-challenged, authoritarian leader Kim Jong Il has trimmed his famous pompadour. One exception, however: Comradely comb-overs are OK for older men.
The short-hair campaign actually was launched in October, but it reached new lengths Monday when state-run Central TV began ridiculing nonconformists as unhygienic, anti-socialist fools. It comes as North Korea (news – web sites)’s dictatorship struggles to tighten its control over information, monitor its population and dictate cultural tastes.
State TV even derided violators of the order by name and address, calling them “blind followers of bourgeois lifestyle,” and exposing them to jeers from other citizens.
“We cannot help questioning the cultural taste of this comrade, who is incapable of feeling ashamed of his hair style,” the station said Monday, showing a man identified as Ko Gwang Hyun, whose unkempt hair covered his ears.
“Can we expect a man with this disheveled mind-set to perform his duty well?” the announcer asked.
North Koreans have never been known for mop tops, but the campaign — dubbed “Let’s Trim Our Hair According to Socialist Lifestyle” — suggests that popular tastes have changed recently.
One possibility is exposure to China, where long hair is being seen more often.