North Korea issues 28 official hairstyles for its citizens

Women get to choose from 18 cuts, while men have 10 official "socialist" hairstyles to choose from.

North Korea is getting a makeover.

Want China Times, a news website operated by The China Times, reported that North Korea has approved 28 official "socialist" hairstyles.

The hairstyles are "capable of warding off the corrupting effects of capitalism," the Times quoted ifeng.com as saying.

The cuts are about more than fashion. They are a statement about North Korea's values, which apparently don't include spiky hair.

North Korea hairstyles: North Korea only provided 10 official hairstyles for men. IMAGEAP

According to the Times, there are separate approved styles for single and married women, with married women getting a bit more variety. Women have 18 styles to choose from overall, while men have 10.

The Times said the approved styles are seen on the walls of salons around the country. There was no mention of how the styles would be enforced.

The fashion restrictions run deeper, though.

The Times reported that the hair guidelines stipulate that men should get a haircut every 15 days and keep their hair no longer than two inches, as "longer hair apparently takes away nutrition from the brain." Older men can have hair as long as 2.8 inches.

Oddly, North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, does not fit the approved hairstyle list, with a 'do that's longer on the top and shaved on the sides.

Others are now struggling to interpret the cultural shift.

The Times said some believe the hair edict was issued because Kim disliked previous hairstyles in the country. Others say it may be a move to improve the country's image — literally.

But another cultural force may be at work: consumerism.

The Economist interviewed a recent escapee from North Korea who reportedly left because she wanted "the freedom to wear flared jeans and jewelry and to let her hair … grow long and wavy."

The Economist said material tastes are sneaking into North Korea thanks in part to illegal South Korean and American TV dramas smuggled into the country.

Related: Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un: Friends for life?

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