Kim Jong Un's haircut edict is a hoax, according to several North Korean observers, who on Thursday pushed back against thinly sourced media reports that the 31-year-old dictator was ordering all male university students in the socialist nation to get haircuts that resembled his.
Recent visitors to the country say they've seen no evidence of any mass haircut trends, adding that it is likely another imaginative but uncorroborated rumor, the Associated Press reported
"I was there just a few days ago, and no sign of that," Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours – which specializes in bringing foreign tourists to North Korea, told the AP. "It's definitely not true."
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Cockerell's observation was supported by an AP journalist in Pyongyang, who told the news service that he hadn't observed any hairstyles changes among male college students in the capital.
Though it is unclear where the false rumor started, Radio Free Asia appears to have been sourced by several media outlets
regarding the fake haircut mandate, including the Times of India and the BBC
In January there was an international media frenzy over reports that Kim's uncle had been executed by throwing him to a pack of dogs
, but the report appears to have originated as satire on a Chinese microblogging website. It was then repeated by many media outlets worldwide.
In 2005, the government waged war against men with long hair, who they derided as being unhygienic anti-socialist fools, the AP reported. The regime led a propaganda campaign at the time in which they directed North Korean men to wear what was deemed the "socialist style" haircut, in which hair could grow no longer than 2 inches, with older men receiving limited a hair-length waiver to conceal balding with a comb-over alternative.
According to the AP, longhaired men were labeled "blind followers of bourgeois lifestyle," and ridiculed in public, with the nation's state-run Central TV even identifying violators by name and address.
As for why longhair was considered bad, the Communist regime said it hindered brain activity by taking oxygen away from nerves in the head.
Women were still permitted to grow their hair long, and there was never an explanation given as to why their brain activity wasn't affected by having oxygen-sucking hair follicles all over their head.
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