Kim Jong-un and his hair. (Photo/Xinhua)
North Korea has captured headlines worldwide, after "advice" from universities that male students get their hair cut in the same style as the country's leader Kim Jong-un became misconstrued by international media as an order that every man in the country had been ordered to adopt Kim's distinctive hairstyle.
The reports were found to be suspect after Washington-based NK News cited recent visitors to the country including NGO Choson Exchange head Andray Abrahamian and Young Pioneer Tours general manager Gareth Johnson, none of whom had come across any change in male hairstyles in their time there.
According to Radio Free Asia, the ruling Korean Workers' Party "recommended" the hairstyle to male students without receiving a directive from Kim.
Many students reportedly complained that they didn't want to get the hairstyle, which they said was the trademark of Chinese smugglers. Since no directive was issued, the students are not required by law to sport the hairstyle but colleges have viewed it as a "party recommendation" and have forced many students to adopt it. The recommendation was made in Pyongyang two weeks ago, according to the media agency.
In the past, North Koreans were forbidden from sporting the same hairstyle as their leaders. Pyongyang last year reportedly recommended 28 acceptable hairstyles for men and women in the country. The country's state-run television network in 2005 also called on men to keep their hair short as long hair "consumes a great deal of nutrition."