North Korea has recently launched a movement, targeting citizens with long hair and commanding them to adopt Kim Jong-un’s absurdly angled, high and tight male bouffant. In February 2015, the Supreme Leader’s haircut made headline news – Kim Jong-un’s trademark style still had shaved sides, but his mop-like top was swapped for a bizarre trapezoid-shaped poof. Further, his eyebrows had been subtly shaved on both ends, creating an oddly unnatural look. His appearance was more robotic and severe than ever.
Reflecting his ferocity as a leader, Kim Jong-un’s makeover was described as “barbarous” and “ambitious.” There were many commentators on the subject, and although media joked about his ‘do, this latest purge sounds like a more serious enforcement.
According to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper, authorities in the North Korean capital have established an order for men to keep their hair at a maximum of two centimeters (0.8 inches) in length. North Koreans have been told to show respect to Kim Jong-un by mirroring his famed brushed-back bouffant that rises upward from the shaved parts above his ears.
Women are apparently on the hook, too, as they’ve been instructed to adopt a bob akin to Ri Sol-ju’s, the North Korean leader’s wife. According to the paper, authorities are so ardent on the subject that they’ve enlisted University students to monitor hair length by arming themselves with scissors to cut passing offenders’ hair off. Inside sources claim barber shops in the capital Pyongyang are packed with customers trying to comply for fear of repercussions. Ostensibly, the only exceptions to the rule are performers who favor long hair.
It is speculated that Kim Jong-un embraced the hairstyle because of his grandfather and illustrious founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, in an attempt to resurrect the early days of a more affluent regime. Known as The Great Leader, Kim Il-sung reportedly dug the swept-back flow with tightly shaved sides.
Perhaps this is simply a legacy hairdo – Kim Jong-un paying homage to his grandfather – that’s it. On the other hand, he could be gaining retribution for the frenzy of media ridicule he endured in February and the endless mocking that followed. Many perspectives suggest this new decree is just another vehicle for the leader to exercise control over his citizens and quash resistance.