A HAIRY TURN OF EVENTS

The '60s youth rebellion in the United States, it might be argued, was as much about hair as it was about sexism, race relations or the War in Vietnam. Who, among those present at the time, can forget the gorilla jokes, the enforced shearings, and the sight of demonstrators being dragged through the streets by their flowing locks? Unkempt hair came to seem the very essence of anti- authoritarianism.

Now, from an unlikely source, comes confirmation that the kids might have been onto something, after all.

According to a report in the Taipei Times, none other than the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea has declared war on long hair. Despite the fact that the supreme authority, "dear leader" Kim Jong-Il, sports a bit of a bouffant, other male North Koreans have been advised that it is anti-socialistic to follow his example.

The point was driven home on the nation's state television network, which recently aired a five-part series called, "Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle." Why it took so many episodes to explain is unclear, since the government's guidelines are simple and specific. Men's hair should be between one and five centimeters long, and should be trimmed every fifteen days, period. The only exception: a sporty seven-centimeter length is approved for those over 50 who have a bald spot to cover.

Anyone who thinks that such regulations are simply about fashion should think again. The TV series, which began last year as part of the regular Common Sense programs, provides viewers with a scientific underpinning. Long hair, according to state authorities, is unhealthy and adversely affects "human intelligence development." Growing it "consumes a great deal of nutrition," and depletes brain energy--energy that might otherwise be put to more constructive use, say in such taxing endeavors as hating the evil West and venerating the dear leader.

As an indication of the regime's seriousness about this subject, authorities secretly filmed long-haired men on the streets of downtown Pyongyang and, somewhat in their longstanding tradition of broadcasting cameos about model citizens, posted the names and addresses of hair miscreants on national TV.

North Korean hippies, you have been warned.

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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

--Albert Einstein

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Posted 02-07-2005 9:12 PM by Doug Casey
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