- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The world has been waiting for days for news of ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s health. A rumored “important announcement” about Dear Leader’s condition yesterday never materialized. Now, the Japanese paper Mainichi Shimbun has the first reported story of Kim’s activities in days and it’s characteristically weird:
Kim was watching a special match between Kim Il-sung University — his own alma mater, which was celebrating its 62nd anniversary — and Pyongyang University of Railways. According to an insider, after realizing that several of the Kim Il-sung University players were sporting long hair, Kim declared it to “look disgusting,” and said “I can’t tell if this is men’s soccer or women’s soccer.”
His mood grew steadily worse until the end of the first half, at which point he announced he would not be watching the rest of the match. Whether he was actually watching from the stadium or on television is unknown.
Shortly after the incident, a notice was posted in workplaces across the country banning long hair for men. Staff at Kim Il-sung University were witnessed carrying out particularly stringent checks.
The entire story comes from one anonymous North Korean source so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but this isn’t the first time that Kim has tried to ban long hair. Frankly, considering the bouffant and ladies’ sunglasses look that Kim has been rocking since the ’80s, I don’t think he’s really in a position to be criticizing anyone’s style.