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Volume:7, Number:44
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Around The World 1
THIS WEEK

Much Ado About Hairdo

| Bashir Ahmed |

The 33-year-old Kim Jong-un has attracted ample attention for his gravitydefying hairstyle, partitioned in the center and shaved from all sides, and colloquially known as the mushroom cut

Hairstyle of leaders have been in discussion perhaps since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the US presidential race. But North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s unconventional hairstyle was already the butt of many jokes. Cropped to look like a toupee, no other world leader before him ever flaunted such a weird hairdo. So why does the North Korea’s leader rock this healthy mop of hair on his head? In the news recently for issuing nuclear threats and his controversial statements against the US administration, the 33-yearold rotund leader has also attracted ample attention for his gravity-defying hairstyle — partitioned in the center and shaved from all sides, and colloquially known as the mushroom cut.

According to a report filed by GQ magazine in 2015, Kim is said to have gotten the idea from his grandfather, Kim II-sung, whom he aspires to be like. Experts say he models the same cut because he thinks this will earn him respect and power, just like his late grandfather wielded. Not one to walk alone in a crowd, Kim went a snip further and ensured that his hairstyle was turned into a law. In 2013, he introduced a list of acceptable hairstyles which were later made mandatory by the state. Two years later, he introduced legislation which targeted citizens with long hair and ordered them to copy his much mocked “ambitious” hairstyle. Men could no longer grow their hair more than 2 centimeters, with “University student monitors punishing offenders by cutting off the extra length”. Women were not spared either, with most being ordered to model their hair after Kim’s wife, 27-year-old Ri Sol-ju.

A 2013 Telegraph report said that men and women are only allowed to choose from the hairstyles that were sanctioned by Kim. Women are only allowed to choose from the 14 hairstyles provided, out of which married women are instructed to keep their hair short while single women were free to let their hair loose with longer, curlier locks. Kim has a morbid fear of barbers because of a traumatic childhood experience and prefers to cut his own hair, according to an article written by the International Business Times. Finnish Journalist, Mika Makelanien, while on a visit to Pyongyang to cover a military parade, took pictures of two posters which he claimed showed the haircuts allowed in North Korea.

On April 17, he tweeted from his handle @Mikareport saying “Equality in North Korea: Both sexes have 15 approved haircut models. You can forget about dyeing your hair though.” Coloring is also banned in the country. The Daily Mail reports that in 2005, North Korean state TV aired a five-part series on haircut guidelines for today’s modern socialist lifestyle, with the guidelines constantly being revamped under North Korea’s leader.

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