Men and women in North Korea may not be able to cut their hair in trendy, new styles, as the country has launched a campaign allowing women to choose from 18 different “officially sanctioned” hairstyles, while men get to choose from just 10.
It was sparked by communist officials wanting to forbid western influences.
The 18 hairstyles women can choose from don’t have much variety, most being short bobs or unstyled medium-length hair.
Usually, women are encouraged to wear their hair straight with traditional Korean dress, but if they wear western clothes, they can wear their hair wavy or curled.
The hairstyles change for married women, too. When a woman is married, it’s frowned upon to wear longer hair. But if a woman is single, she can be more creative with her hair and wear it long, in braids, or put a ribbon in it.
Residents of the country made a TV series in 2005 called “Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle.” It aimed to promote a certain type of male hairstyle which included a short length in the back and sides.
While this show aired, radio reports popped up all over North Korea urging people to wear tidy hairstyles and appropriate clothing.
The show escalated to send hidden cameras out to catch rebellious North Koreans who were breaking the hairstyle rules. They even began to name and publicly shame those who wore their hair differently.
According to Korean authorities, men should keep their hair shorter than five centimeters and cut it every 15 days.
When a man reaches an older age, he’s allowed to grow his hair up to seven centimeters.
Though the strict guidelines are still enforced, North Korea’s first lady Ri Sol-ju has shown she's more fashion forward, choosing two piece suits and slicked back hair instead of the traditional Korean dress and short bob.