Kim Jong Il back from the dead to ban long hair?

Korean Central Television/Yonhap via Getty Images 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: ...

591935_081021_kim5.jpg
591935_081021_kim5.jpg

Korean Central Television/Yonhap via Getty Images

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."

Korean Central Television/Yonhap via Getty Images

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.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

More from Foreign Policy

A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed  according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.
A worker cuts the nose off the last Ukraine's Tupolev-22M3, the Soviet-made strategic aircraft able to carry nuclear weapons at a military base in Poltava, Ukraine on Jan. 27, 2006. A total of 60 aircraft were destroyed according to the USA-Ukrainian disarmament agreement.

Why Do People Hate Realism So Much?

The school of thought doesn’t explain everything—but its proponents foresaw the potential for conflict over Ukraine long before it erupted.

Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.
Employees watch a cargo ship at a port in China, which is experiencing an economic downturn.

China’s Crisis of Confidence

What if, instead of being a competitor, China can no longer afford to compete at all?

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies in the U.S. Senate in Washington on Sept. 24, 2020.

Why This Global Economic Crisis Is Different

This is the first time since World War II that there may be no cooperative way out.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang applaud at the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11.

China Is Hardening Itself for Economic War

Beijing is trying to close economic vulnerabilities out of fear of U.S. containment.