UPDATE via the Associated Press:
TOKYO (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s distinctive hairstyle is the ‘do of the day on the Internet, thanks to a viral report that every male university student in the capital is now under orders to get a buzz just like it. But it appears the barbers of Pyongyang aren’t exactly sharpening their scissors.
Recent visitors to the country say they’ve seen no evidence of any mass haircutting. North Korea watchers smell another imaginative but uncorroborated rumor.
The thinly sourced reports say an order went out a few weeks ago for university students to buzz cut the sides of their heads just like Kim. Washington, D.C.-based Radio Free Asia cited unnamed sources as saying an unwritten directive from somewhere within the ruling Workers’ Party went out early this month, causing consternation among students who didn’t think the new ‘do would suit them.
“I was there just a few days ago, and no sign of that,” said Simon Cockerell of Koryo Tours, which specializes in bringing foreign tourists to North Korea. “It’s definitely not true.”
An AP journalist in Pyongyang also said he had not seen any recent changes in hairstyles among college students in the capital.
Wide interest in the reports reflect the fascination the outside world has had with the unique hairstyles of both Kim Jong Un and his father, the late Kim Jong Il, who had a one-of-a-kind bouffant.
Though the forced grooming story may be one of many reported oddities about North Korea life that turn out to be false, it is true that the government has its own “fashion police.”
UPDATE, 5:20 p.m. ET: The BBC corrected their initial story to note that the new haircut guideline applies only to university men, not men in general.
Men in North Korea are legally required now to get the same haircut as the communist nation’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, according to reports cited by the BBC.
While women will still apparently be allowed to choose from a list of 18 state-approved styles, men must trim their hair in accordance with the unique style of their supreme leader.
Media reports indicate the new guidelines were rolled out in the capital Pyongyang roughly two weeks ago, according to the BBC.
Previously, men were allowed to choose from 10 different styles.
The BBC reported that earlier this year, the communist nation launched a campaign against long hair. It was reportedly called, “Let us trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle.”
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