North Koreans Can Only Choose a Hairstyle From 30 State-Approved Cuts

by Meenal Bhatia

North Koreans Can Only Choose a Hairstyle From 30 State-Approved Cuts

May 9, 2021

Imagine going to a restaurant and having only 10 food items on the menu and then finding out that all the restaurants in the city have the same food. Well, the same is the case with North Korean men and women when it comes to getting a haircut. The options are limited; 28 to be precise.

North Korea is a secretive country, there was a time when visitors were allowed to take pictures of specific places only and forbidden from speaking to locals. Not much has changed though, they still have just three channels that run on their television sets, the laws make it illegal to own a Bible, they need a permission to live in the capital and the list goes on.

One would think citizens at least have the right to choose how they look, but no, the government trumps them here too. 

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The State-Approved Hairstyles

North Korean government has approved 30 official hairstyles and all men and women in the country have to follow these as other hairstyles are banned. Spiked hair is exclusively banned because the government thinks it’s rebellious. This North Korean restriction was brought in by the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un in 2013.


A Journalist's Account

Back in 2017, Finnish journalist Mika Mäkeläinen went to Pyongyang to cover the Day of the Sun, an annual public holiday in North Korea to mark the birth of Kim II-sung 105 years ago. While on his visit, he stumbled upon posters that depict the allowed haircuts.

He even went ahead and tried one of the country’s most popular style on offer – and described the experience as the ‘best shave and head massage that I have ever had.’ 

He tweeted: ‘North Korean men can choose between 15 approved haircut styles. I had the most popular one – and it’s not like Kim Jong Un.’ Mäkeläinen then wrote: ‘Equality in North Korea: Both sexes have 15 approved haircut models. You can forget about dyeing your hair though.’

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Kim Jong-un Remains Exclusive

When the posters hit the internet, several sources were quick to point out that none of the state-approved hairstyles appears to match tyrant leader Kim Jong-un’s hairstyle of choice. The leader’s iconic haircut, nicknamed the “ambitious”, appears to be off-limits to the general public. Sources say he did not include his own hairstyle because he wanted to keep it unique. In 2015 it was reported that Kim Jong-un had ordered men to copy his ‘ambitious’ hair style limiting growth to a maximum length of 2cm.


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