Hyesan high school students forced to write self-reviews for ‘inappropriate’ hairstyles

A panorama of Hyesan taken in 2013. (Wikimedia Commons)

Five female students from a high school in Hyesan, Yanggang Province, were recently arrested by a law enforcement team for having “inappropriate hairstyles”.

According to a Daily NK source in Yanggang province on Thursday, authorities have recently intensified their crackdowns and checks on so-called “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior” perpetrated by youths in Hyesan.

In fact, teams made up of members of the provincial and municipal branches of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League patrol schools and streets to crack down on middle and high school students – analogous to middle and high schools in South Korea – for clothing. and hairstyles prohibited.

On June 20, one such street patrol team arrested five second-grade girls at Hyehwa Secondary School for dyeing their hair. North Korea disputes students dyeing their hair a color other than black, saying such actions encourage “capitalist delinquency”.

Officials from the Provincial Socialist Patriotic Youth League urged the students to dye their hair, taking them straight to the execution team’s office to write letters of self-criticism.

Above all, the team took issue with the fact that the students were made up of so-called “enthusiastic individuals,” including the head of their class’ elementary party organizing committee.

In North Korean schools, “enthusiastic individuals” are analogous to South Korean student body presidents, class presidents, and class vice presidents. These students are usually chosen for their grades and leadership.

Authorities are treating the bust as a particularly serious matter because “enthusiastic individuals” – who should be role models for other students – engaged in anti-socialist, non-socialist behavior.

“High school graduates have been arrested and punished for dyeing their hair or wearing strange clothes, but it’s rare for high school students to get in trouble for dyeing their hair,” the source said. “The party is stepping up ideological education aimed at the country’s youth, but with problems emerging even among young students, they are taking the issue very seriously.”

Students are called to the provincial office of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League every day to write letters of self-criticism from morning to night, the source said.

The students’ homeroom teacher is also in hot water, having been suspended from class for a month. She is also called to the office of the provincial education department every day to write letters of self-criticism.

The source said checks on young people are intensifying every year, but “unsocialist phenomena” continue to emerge among students.

“Authorities are stepping up their crackdown on anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior, and they will likely use this incident to further step up their crackdown on young people,” he said.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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