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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 13-02-2014 12:46    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is it like to ski in North Korea?

One of the first foreign visitors, Jean Lee, filmed the deserted slopes and high-spec hotel complex at the Masik Pass Resort
North Korea is not known for its winter sports - it does not have a single athlete at the Sochi Winter Olympics. But that has not stopped it opening a high-end ski resort in its eastern mountains. The Masik Pass Resort is "the most exotic ski destination on Earth", according to one tour operator - and perhaps also the most controversial. Lucy Williamson spoke to one of the first foreign tourists to visit.

There are not many ways to relax in North Korea. And so, in a society beset by political and economic challenges, the country's young leader has made leisure facilities a priority.

Since coming to power, he has opened a water-park and a dolphinarium, tested out new fairground rides, invited a team of American basketball stars over for an exhibition match and opened a ski resort.

Visitors say the Masik Pass Resort is accessed via a military-style checkpoint and it takes three separate ski-lifts to reach the top of the slopes. But at least there is plenty of room - this is a hobby reserved for North Korea's elite.

This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on 31 December 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting a ski resort on Masik Pass to be completed in Kangwon province
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has made leisure facilities a priority
Not only for them though. Their government is hoping to attract foreign tourists to the resort, too. So there are signs in English, high-tech swipe cards for skiers and Western alcohol on the menu.

Jean Lee was one of the first foreigners to use the slopes. She used to work as a journalist in North Korea, so she filmed it.

"It was surreal, very surprising. There's very little development on the road between Pyongyang and the [resort area] of Wonsan, so it's an interesting contrast to see that," she said.

"They have poured a lot of money and resources into this resort. What surprised me was how well they had built it, considering that it was only 10 months in construction."

Kim Jong-un may have put a lot of money into promoting fun, but he also likes to spend the country's meagre income on nuclear weapons and a huge standing army. And the sanctions that are meant to curb that habit have not stopped high-tech luxuries like foreign ski equipment from turning up here.

Swiss companies were banned from supplying ski lifts to the Masik Pass Resort because of sanctions prohibiting the export of luxury goods to North Korea. But Ms Lee and others have spotted several high-end international brands of equipment being used by the resort.

Jean Lee, a journalist who used to work in North Korea
Jean Lee, a journalist who used to work in North Korea, filmed her experience at the ski resort
The tour operator who arranged the trip, Uritours, bills it as "a destination for seasoned travellers". Its CEO, Andrea Lee, says she is aware of the challenges involved in choosing North Korea as a holiday destination.

"We're very aware of the ethical issues, that's always something you have to overcome as a tourist, [but] there's a value to tourism," she said.

"It's a great way to get to know the local people, even if you can't see all of the country, and it's great for North Koreans to get to know foreigners. It's not easy to make friends in North Korea, but sport transcends barriers."

Jean Lee agrees that the ski resort allows foreigners unusual freedom to interact.

"Normally when you go to North Korea, it's hard to get the locals to talk, but in this particular circumstance, they were chasing me down," she said.

"So we would have skiers waiting for us at every corner, grilling us with questions about how to snowboard. 'Where did I learn?' 'Where did I put my weight on the board?' 'Where did I learn to ski?' It's the first time I've been hounded by North Koreans, rather than me hounding them!"

The country's richer neighbour, South Korea, has been trying for years to attract tourists to its own resorts.

North Korea's selling-point, of course, is precisely that it is so isolated, so unknown. But the question many people have is whether this kind of "sports diplomacy" will help to open up the regime or just to bankroll it.

North Korea enjoys competing internationally at sporting events. None of its athletes have qualified for the Sochi Games, but Pyongyang's Olympic representative has already expressed ambitions to host future tournaments at the country's new resort.

Too late for the 2018 Winter Olympics though - that bid went to South Korea.
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Unfeathered Biped
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PostPosted: 13-02-2014 18:36    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone told these guys that snowboardings a good way to break your neck, yet?
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 17-03-2014 13:38    Post subject: Reply with quote

North Korea abductee: Japan parents meet grand-daughter

Shigeru and Sakie Yokota show portraits of their daughter Megumi at a press conference in Tokyo on 16 November 2004

Shigeru and Sakie Yokota have campaigned for years to find out what happened to Megumi

The parents of a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea have described a meeting with her daughter as "miraculous".

Megumi Yokota was kidnapped by North Korean agents on her way home from school in 1977, when she was 13.

North Korea says she married a South Korean abductee and had a daughter before killing herself in 1994.

Her parents were allowed to meet their grandchild for the first time in Mongolia last week, Japan's foreign ministry announced over the weekend.

Megumi Yokota was one of a number of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 80s to train North Korean spies.

North Korea has returned five such abductees and says the others have died, but Japan says it has failed to provide adequate proof of their deaths.

'Dream come true'
The case of Megumi Yokota, as the youngest of the abductees, has huge resonance in Japan.

She was snatched by agents in the Japanese city of Niigata and taken to North Korea by boat.

Her parents, Shigeru and Sakie Yokota, have campaigned for years to find out what happened to her.

North Korea returned what it said were her remains in 2004 but DNA tests subsequently disputed that claim.

Shigeru Yokota (left) and Sakie Yokota at a press conference in Kawasaki, west of Tokyo, Japan 17 March 2014
Sakie Yokota (right) said she continued to hold onto the belief that her daughter was alive
Japan's foreign ministry announced on Sunday that Mr and Mrs Yokota spent several days last week with their grand-daughter in the Mongolian capital, Ulan Batur.

The couple said of their meeting with 26-year-old Kim Eun-gyong: "It was a miraculous event and it provided great pleasure."

"We had hoped to meet her as a family," Sakie Yokota told reporters. "What we have dreamt about for such a long time has come true."

Continue reading the main story
Japan's missing

Snatched in the 1970s and 1980s
Used as cultural trainers for North Korean spies
Five allowed home in 2002
Five children subsequently freed from North Korea
Eight said to be dead, others missing - but Japan does not accept this
The couple did not ask about the fate of their daughter, AFP news agency reported.

"We did not want to make the meeting with her [Kim Eun-gyong] anything that involves political matters," Mrs Yokota said. "She has grown up in that country. We weren't sure how much of the truth she could tell us."

However, Mrs Yokota added that she continued to hold onto the belief that her daughter was alive.

In a statement, the couple added that they hoped the meeting would "pave the way for rescuing all the abductees," Kyodo news agency said.

The abduction issue remains a key sticking point in the relationship between Japan and North Korea, who do not have diplomatic ties.
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 18-03-2014 13:43    Post subject: Reply with quote

BBC apologises over Panorama's North Korea programme

Panorama reporter John Sweeney alongside North Korean official

Panorama reporter John Sweeney spent eight days in North Korea for the programme

The BBC has apologised after failing to ensure students were aware of the risks involved in taking part in a Panorama programme on North Korea last year.

The BBC Trust's editorial standards committee said the breaches amounted to "a serious failing."

Reporter John Sweeney joined a group of former and current London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) students to gain access to North Korea.

The LSE and the father of one of the students both complained to the BBC.

The Trust concluded the BBC "failed to consider a number of important issues and risks, and failed to deal with them appropriately".

It found that information given to the students was "insufficient" and "inadequate", which "meant the daughter of the complainant did not possess the knowledge necessary to give informed consent".

The BBC Executive has sent letters of apology to the unnamed father who complained and the LSE.

Political mural in Pyongyang
Cameras are rarely allowed to record life inside the communist state
The father of "student X" and the LSE were dissatisfied with the BBC's responses to their original complaints, which were subsequently accepted on appeal by the Trust's Editorial Standards Committee.

Just before the programme was transmitted last year, the LSE and its students' union demanded the BBC withdraw the Panorama programme.

The union's Alex Peters-Day accused the BBC of using students "as a human shield".

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

This was a serious failing, and the BBC is right to apologise to the complainants”

Alison Hastings, chair of the BBC's Editorial Standards Committee
She added that: "Students were lied to, they weren't able to give their consent".

But Sweeney said the students were told a journalist was with them. The LSE however was not, as it was not an LSE trip.

The programme was broadcast as planned.

The BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee also found that "the use of the LSE's address details on the programme teams' visa applications was inappropriate and this, combined with other factors, risked linking the LSE with the trip and resulted in unfair treatment to the LSE."

Alison Hastings, Chair of the BBC's Editorial Standards Committee, said: "Discovering stories in difficult or dangerous places is one of the BBC's greatest strengths.

Public interest

"There was a real public interest in making this programme in North Korea but, in the Trust's view, the BBC failed to ensure that all the young adults Panorama travelled with were sufficiently aware of any potential risks to enable them to give informed consent. This was a serious failing, and the BBC is right to apologise to the complainants."

The BBC Executive said it accepted the Trust's findings but was "pleased that the Trust found that there was a clear and strong public interest in commissioning and broadcasting the programme and that the correct referral procedures and processes were followed by the programme team and senior management.

"We also accept, however, that aspects of the BBC's handling of the project fell short in a number of areas, with the Trust finding against the BBC on four of its 21 rulings."

The students and post-graduates were led on the trip by a third member of the Panorama team, Tomiko Newson, who is also Sweeney's wife.

Newson, Sweeney and a cameraman/producer pretended to be part of their trip and accompanied the students as they travelled around the country on an organised tour given by North Korean guides, filming with conventional tourist cameras.

The BBC Trust report stated that: "From the moment the BBC became involved in the trip to North Korea, Tomiko Newson (who was the trip organiser and tour leader) had a conflict of interest which was further compounded when she became employed by the BBC.

"The BBC should have ensured that there was someone independent of the programme team present to lead the trip."

The Trust acknowledged a strong public interest in the investigation, in light of the circumstances surrounding North Korea's nuclear testing in late 2012 and early 2013.

It also concluded the corporation spent considerable time evaluating the risks created by its presence on the trip to North Korea and that the correct referral procedures and processes were followed.

At the time of the broadcast, concerns were raised in the media about the impact the programme could have on academics working in areas like North Korea.

For decades, North Korea has been one of the world's most secretive societies. It is one of the few countries still under nominally communist rule.
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King-Size Canary
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PostPosted: 27-03-2014 18:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anyone know if there's any truth to the story going about recently about the beloved leader of North Korea, that international style icon, ordering all men to have the same hairdo as he does, or is it silly season already?
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Boring petty conservative
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PostPosted: 27-03-2014 19:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apparently, it seems to be true.

There was a report on BBC News, but that article seems to no longer be available (I've noticed this about the Beeb - they sometimes pull the plug on articles).
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What a Cad!
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PostPosted: 27-03-2014 19:54    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mythopoeika wrote:
There was a report on BBC News, but that article seems to no longer be available (I've noticed this about the Beeb - they sometimes pull the plug on articles).

No, it's still there (a version, anyway):

North Korea: Students required to get Kim Jong-un haircut
By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring
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King-Size Canary
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PostPosted: 28-03-2014 18:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mythopoeika wrote:
Apparently, it seems to be true.

Good grief, I thought it was another UL yarn like the one about him feeding his uncle to dogs. There's vanity for you. Whose hairdo do female students have to have?
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Great Old One
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PostPosted: 29-03-2014 18:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

gncxx wrote:
Mythopoeika wrote:
Apparently, it seems to be true.

Good grief, I thought it was another UL yarn like the one about him feeding his uncle to dogs. There's vanity for you. Whose hairdo do female students have to have?

Erm... Seems to be true?

"Washington based radio ... citing un-named sources" plus 2 interviews with people in another country who have no knowledge of the situation and some stock footage a South Korean barbers shop...

Why men’s Kim Jong Un hairstyle requirement is unlikely true

Recent visitors to North Korea say no evidence of new hairstyle rumor

Reports suggesting the North Korean government has directly ordered all male college students to adopt haircuts similar to Kim Jong Un are unlikely true, frequent visitors to North Korea told NK News on Thursday.

The story, which emerged in an article published by the Washington DC-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), said on Tuesday that an order for young men to imitate Kim Jong Un’s hairstyle was made two weeks ago and was expected to be strictly enforced – something regular visitors were unable to corroborate.

“I am pretty sure that this is just stupid, everyone had typical haircuts last week,” said Andray Abrahamian, Executive Director of the Singapore-based NGO Choson Exchange – which works regularly with young North Korean professionals.

Gareth Johnson, General Manager of the Beijing-based Young Pioneer Tours, also told NK News that – as of last week – none of his colleagues had seen evidence of the new haircut requirement.

“We were in the country last week and saw no one with said haircut. It seems to be that the BBC must find a new North Korea story every week” Johnson said, alluding to the BBC’s Wednesday pickup of the RFA story.

Compared to the Kim Jong Il era, it also seems that there has been a relaxation of existing fashion and style guidelines under Kim Jong Un, a point underscored by Matthew Reichel, Director of the Canadian NGO Pyongyang Project.

“Ever since the Moranbong band was popularized and the DPRK’s first lady was officially announced, there has been a liberalization or the rules. Also, Pyongyang’s middle and upper class youth are quite interested in fashion.

“To suggest that a single style must be adopted around the country is not logical. Of course it is socially acceptable to follow the leaders’ fashion choices, and the Kim Jong Il perm can still be found on street corners from Pyongyang to Chongjin, but that does not mean it is required,” Reichel added.


The RFA report is not the first time stories about state sanctioned haircuts in North Korea have emerged in the media, with a pervasive myth that women must choose from a precise and limited set of approved styles still emerging regularly today.

But the images commonly used to support this claim often focus on tourist posters of a selection of hairstyles featured on the walls of barber shops in Pyongyang – which are actually there to offer clients an idea of potential options, not a mandatory selection.

Nevertheless, the state has involved itself in the past by promoting approved hairstyles and fashions to its citizens.

In 2005 a series called “Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle” was broadcast on state TV in which the narrator urged Korean men to maintain short hairstyles to maintain their “ideological spirit” – as well as for “health reasons” based on the fact longer hair “consumes a great deal of nutrition”.

And in 2005 state media broadcast a candid camera program which “named and shamed” citizens in Pyongyang who had let their hair grow out, broadcasting their name, ID numbers and work units in the hope of influencing viewers to stick with orthodoxy.


A regular visitor to North Korea familiar with rules on hairstyles told NK News that although guidelines do exist, enforcement is rarely a serious issue.

“Yes there is enforcement, but it is not very serious,” said the source, who requested to remain anonymous.

“The fashion enforcers are normally students required to ‘volunteer’ a couple of times a year and are stationed by bus stops, metro stops and busy street corners,” said the source.

The job of the ‘volunteer’ enforcers, much like the reporter in the state TV program, is to stop “inappropriately dressed” citizens, record their ID numbers and to report the infraction to their work unit.

But guilt of a hairstyle infraction does not necessarily mean that students will be punished.

“It is not really a big deal, they can use this infraction as a theme or point of focus in one of the mandated self criticism sessions that each North Korean is required to take part in,” the source said. “If it happens multiple times, they may get a talking to.”

Rumors about North Korea based on anonymous sources often emerge in the mainstream media, leading to an echo-chamber effect.
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King-Size Canary
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PostPosted: 30-03-2014 18:25    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent work, emina, I was right to have my suspicions. And the West accuse the NKs for having a weirdly biased media!
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PostPosted: 06-04-2014 01:00    Post subject: Reply with quote

North Korea launches misogynist tirade against South Korean president
Park Geun-hye is described as a 'cold-blooded animal' and 'little girl' in official newspaper after speech on reunification

Tania Branigan in Beijing, Friday 4 April 2014 13.03 BST

Park Geun-hye

The South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, gives a speech in Dresden, Germany. Photograph: Jens Meyer/AP
North Korea has launched a vicious, misogynist tirade against the South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, after she gave a speech on reunification in Germany.

While the North's propaganda is often vitriolic, the highly personalised and sexist nature of the attack – the latest salvo is titled: "We accuse Park the bitch" – is more unusual.

The three-part series, which ran in the official newspaper Rodong Sinmun on Wednesday, describes her as a lunatic, idiot and "cold-blooded animal". But it also stresses the fact she has never married or had children and claims she "jabbers like a little girl", in a string of insults presented as quotes from ordinary North Koreans. The subtitle of one piece reads: "Old cat groaning in her sickbed".

Perhaps to emphasis the youth of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, it also describes her as a dotard who is "well over 60". Kim took power when his father Kim Jong-il died at the age of 70.

North Korea's first reference to Park after she came to power last spring sniped at her "venomous swish of skirt", employing a phrase used to disparage women seen as acting aggressively.

But this week the country has stepped up its attacks in the wake of her speech on inter-Korean relations in Dresden. The official news agency KCNA compared her to a babbling peasant and wrote: "Park put thick makeup on her old, wrinkled face and rambled on."

Seoul urged Pyongyang to "act discreetly", AFP reported, adding: "The North is showing senseless behaviour in using unspeakable language to attack our head of state's diplomatic activities."

Rüdiger Frank, an expert on the North at the University of Vienna, said that as the South Korean president, Park was unlikely to be treated kindly by the North's media.

"But this is a new dimension of name-calling and language, and you wonder what it means," he added.

He noted that it was in part a reaction to Park's recent speech on inter-Korean relations in Dresden. "They were a bit unhappy over the repetition of attempts by [her predecessor] Lee Myong-bak to say: 'If you behave, we will pay you well,'" he said.

The North also resents the joint military drills by the US and South Korea each spring. Its initial reaction was relatively subdued this year, but earlier this week, it exchanged fire with the South close to a disputed sea border.

"Kim Jong-un is showing his impatience with what North Koreans regard as provocation," Frank said.

Pyongyang also appears to be preparing the ground for a fourth nuclear detonation, having warned that it plans a "new kind" of nuclear test.

"That means creating the impression that the enemies who surround them are stepping up their efforts at attacking North Korea and this is justified self-defence," suggested Frank. "They want a fourth test and now they need a good reason to actually conduct it."

He suggested the Ukraine crisis had also "created an environment where North Korea feels much more comfortable … It's no longer them versus the rest of the world, but two camps emerging."

It may also be encouraged by its improving relations with Japan.

Andrei Lankov, a specialist in Korean studies at Kookmin University, said Pyongyang still sought aid from Seoul and was "annoyed with Park Geun-hye because she is not bringing the money they wanted".

He added that her Dresden speech – which promised huge investment if the North abandoned its nuclear weapons programme – was "in a long tradition of gratuitous proposals from both North and South, which have some caveats or conditions which are clearly unacceptable for the other side".

One of the Rodong Sinmun articles points to Park's father, the late dictator Park Chung-hee, warning: "Like father like daughter, this proverb just suits the case of the notorious Parks in a very bad sense."

Park's mother was murdered by a pro-North-Korean assassin aiming at her husband in 1974. "It seems they hate Park Geun-hye [but] not only because of her origins – it seems highly likely in the depths of their heart they have a grudging admiration for Park Chung-hee," said Lankov.

"The other reason is because she is a woman. We are talking about a very chauvinist culture.

"While in the unofficial black market economy, women are very powerful, in the official sphere you cannot see any women except a few in token jobs created for propaganda purposes.

"[A woman's] proper place is to serve her husband and family and in-laws, and she is incapable of doing anything … It's an inborn male chauvinism probably strengthened by the experiences of the Kim family, who are notorious womanisers and obviously tend to look at women very pragmatically and physiologically."

In 2009, the North's foreign ministry described the then US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, as a "funny lady" who looked like a primary schoolgirl or "a pensioner going shopping".
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Psycho Punk
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PostPosted: 15-04-2014 13:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hair raising! He'll be turned into dog food.

North Korean officials ‘threaten’ London hairdresser who used shop window picture of Kim Jong-un

Embassy officials allegedly told the shop owner to take the picture down because it was 'disrespectful' to their leader

In recent months it has been reported that Kim Jong-un’s grip over the North Korean people extends to every aspect of day-to-day life – even the way they are allowed to wear their hair.

Though severe, it was presumed that this influence was limited only to his own people. Now, however, it has emerged that officials from North Korea have attempted to intervene on the streets of London after a hairdresser used a picture of Kim to promote a discount offer for those suffering from a bad hair day.

Mo Nabbach, who runs M&M Hair Academy in South Ealing, said police were forced to intervene after two men from the North Korean Embassy appeared at his shop and started taking pictures of the window and making note, the Evening Standard reported.

He said he thought the picture of the leader would help improve business, given the coverage Kim’s distinctive style has received since he came to power.

But he claims he found himself the victim of a covert monitoring operation carried out by officials from the embassy, which is located less then two miles away in an inter-war semi in Gunnersbury.

Beneath the image a large sign, since taken down, read: “Bad hair day? 15 per cent off all gent cuts through the month of April.”

Mr Nabbach, who is also a fashion photographer, said after the men took photos they came back and asked to speak to the manager before ordering him to take the poster down because it was “disrespectful” to their leader.

“I told them this is England and not North Korea and told them to get their lawyers,” he added.

The salon was offering 15 per cent off The salon was offering 15 per cent off “We did take it down but then some of our clients told me to put it back up because we have a democracy here.

“The two guys were wearing suits and they were very serious. It was very threatening.”

Both Mr Nabbach and the embassy contacted the police over the row.

A Met Police spokeswoman said: “We have spoken to all parties involved and no offence has been disclosed.”

Male university students in North Korea are reportedly now required to get the same haircut as their leader, who took charge after his father’s death in December 2011.

The state-sanctioned guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang last month, according to reports by Radio Free Asia, and is now allegedly being rolled out across the country.

Kim Jong-un's hairstyle was reportedly previously known as 'Chinese smuggler' until he came to power in 2011 Kim Jong-un's hairstyle was reportedly previously known as 'Chinese smuggler' until he came to power in 2011 One source told the station: “Our leader’s haircut is very particular, if you will. It doesn’t always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes.”

But there have been claims that the leader’s hair style is unpopular in his home country because it is a look traditionally assoicated with Chinese smugglers.

It is understood haircuts have been state-approved in North Korea for some time - until now people were reportedly only allowed to choose from 18 styles for women and 10 for men.

North Korea’s state TV also previously launched a campaign against long hair, called: “Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle”.

Late leader Kim Jong-il, who ruled the notoriously secret country for 17 years, sported a bouffant hairstyle, allegedly in order to look taller.

A North Korean embassy spokesman refused to confirm whether officials had visited the shop or whether it had been monitored.

He added: “We are not in a position to comment.”
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