The hairdo known as the “Chinese smuggler haircut” currently sported by dictator Kim Jong-un (aka North Korea’s “The Rachel”), is now a requirement for male university students.
According to less than reputable reports, the state-sanctioned haircut guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago and is now being rolled out across the country.
North Korea has always been pretty strict about their haircuts. The North Korean government has recommended a generous range of 28 hairstyles for its citizens (18 styles for women and 10 for men), claiming that they are “the most comfortable” styles and capable of warding off the corrupting effects of capitalism. But now they’re adding one more haircut so stylish that it has become mandatory for all male students: The Kim Jong Un.
Kim Jong Un’s stylish do is commonly associated with Chinese smugglers and is definitely…. unique. But it’s still better than Kim Jong-il’s bouffant hairstyle, which he sported to make him appear taller.
But is this another addition to the long list of ridiculous news stories about North Korea that will later turn out to be fake? Remember the story of Kim Jong Un’s uncle being fed to starving dogs? Or the one where Kim Jong Un executed his girlfriend for making sex tapes? Or the one where Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday to the North Korean dictator Marilyn Monroe style? Oh wait, that last one was true.
Some North Korean enthusiasts say the story is likely false.
“Kim Jong Un’s haircut is a very particular one, shaved up the sides to make him look like Kim Il Sung did when he was in his 30s,” Bruce Cumings, an expert in Korean history from the University of Chicago, says.
“If many young men are shaving their sideburns to look like Kim Jong Un, it is probably an attempt to show how loyal they are to the leadership.”
Adam Cathcart, a Lecturer in Chinese History at University of Leeds who is also editor of the SinoNK Web site, agrees.
“Haircuts are somewhat generational. To my knowledge, there was no ‘decree’ about getting hair cut significantly shorter just above the ears than had previously been the norms, but more and more young non-military men seemed to do it, and after [Kim’s uncle Jang Sung Taek-taek]’s execution there has appeared to be more such haircuts of such styled people shown on state media, at any rate,” Cathcart says.
“But no one has ‘the’ haircut except for Kim Jong Un, since it’s getting higher and higher and is practically a mohawk [now].”
Well, there’s only one way to find out the truth:
Step 1: Travel to Pyongyang.
Step 2: Look around.
If all of North Korea is having a bad hair day, then the rumours are true.