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The buzz in Pyongyang: get a haircut

Dear Leader Kim Jong-il has issued new hairstyle guidelines for North Koreans in a bid to tame foreign influence. Will Vidal Sassoon become the next US special envoy to North Korea?

By Amelia Newcomb and Scott ArmstrongStaff Writers / December 16, 2009

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews a military parade in Pyongyang in this 2005 file photo.

Korea News Service/Reuters

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It's all the buzz in Pyongyang: Get a trim – or get out.

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Dear Leader and bouffant aficionado Kim Jong-il has issued advice (also known as law in North Korea) that even the Marines could love: Men, keep your hair short. Women -- pull it back or suffer the consequences.

That was the report from official media last month. "To keep your hair tidy and simple ... is a very important matter for setting the ethos of a sound lifestyle in the country," reported Rodong Sinmun, a newspaper published by the Central Committee of the Worker's Party of Korea.

In other words, if you look like Adam Lambert, you may want to head for the nearest equivalent of Supercuts. No ducktails, no feather cuts, no mohawks, no mullets.

Maybe Mr. Kim wants to be the only one whose hair spurs invocations of Elvis (or comparisons to a frightened Chinchilla). Maybe hammering out this policy explains the lack of progress on six-party talks. Or why US envoy Stephen Bosworth didn't get a meeting with Kim last week in Pyongyang.

The bottom line: Don't look "foreign." This may seem odd from a man whose name is often linked with a love of foreign films, foreign actresses, and foreign hairdos. Or from a country whose new 5,000-won bill shows founding leader Kim Il-Sung in a Western suit. But it was the sight of a female sales clerk with a "foreign" hairdo that spurred Kim Jong-il's mournful query : "Is she really our own Korean woman? Why is she giving up our own traditional beauty and choosing to model bad foreign habits of the capitalist?"

Soon after came what will likely prove a stimulus program for the North's barbers – and a new agenda item for the Central Youth Union Committee, who will act as enforcers, according to Agence France-Presse. North Koreans were also told to keep their clothing loose, their skirts at the knee or below, and their trousers flair-free.

The Top 10 implications of Kim Jong-il's hair decree?

10. Kim Jong-Il puts his hair in a messy bun and infiltrates the US as a Chihuahua at the Philadelphia Dog Show.

9. US reestablishes ties with Pyongyang and appoints Vidal Sassoon as ambassador.

8. As part of the rapprochement, Kim encourages tourism with the West, adopting the slogan: ‘Comb over for a vist.’

7. Kim renames the capital of the country PyonGel.

6. The country establishes a National Research Center for Hair Plugs, and Joe Biden asks to attend the opening.

5. Every able-bodied male in the country between the ages of 14 and 17 is forced to join a barbershop quartet.

4. The national anthem is changed to the jingle for Breck Shampoo.

3. Six-party talks over North Korea's nuclear program resume at a Supercuts.

2. At the opening of the talks, Kim declares: "Why all the panic about uranium? A little dab will do ya."

1. Donald Trump emigrates to Pyongyang.

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