The buzz in Pyongyang: get a haircut(Read article summary)
Dear Leader Kim Jong-il has issued new hairstyle guidelines for North Koreans in a bid to tame foreign influence. Will Vidal Sassoon become the next US special envoy to North Korea?
Korea News Service/Reuters
It's all the buzz in Pyongyang: Get a trim – or get out.
Dear Leader and bouffant aficionado Kim Jong-il has issued advice (also known as law in North Korea) that even the Marines could love: Men, keep your hair short. Women -- pull it back or suffer the consequences.
That was the report from official media last month. "To keep your hair tidy and simple ... is a very important matter for setting the ethos of a sound lifestyle in the country," reported Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper published by the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea.
Maybe Mr. Kim wants to be the only one whose hair spurs invocations of Elvis (or comparisons to a frightened Chinchilla). Maybe hammering out this policy explains the lack of progress on six-party talks. Or why US envoy Stephen Bosworth didn't get a meeting with Kim last week in Pyongyang.
The bottom line: Don't look "foreign." This may seem odd from a man whose name is often linked with a love of foreign films, foreign actresses, and foreign hairdos. Or from a country whose new 5,000-won bill shows founding leader Kim Il-Sung in a Western suit. But it was the sight of a female sales clerk with a "foreign" hairdo that spurred Kim Jong-il's mournful query : "Is she really our own Korean woman? Why is she giving up our own traditional beauty and choosing to model bad foreign habits of the capitalist?"