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Country bans leather jackets, sanitary pads, and other bizarre items

Several Western news outlets have reported that the North Korean government will prohibit laughing, drinking, and parties on the tenth anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death in December 2021. ‘Hermit Kingdom’ sounds like yet another strange, curious tale. However, the truth is more complex.

The final hope for democracy:
The Economist’s Democracy Index ranked North Korea dead last out of 167 countries. The international community views the government led by Kim Jong-un as oppressive and totalitarian.

Fashion police:
It was reported in November 2021 that North Korea was cracking down on counterfeit leather trench coats. Kim Jong-un appeared in the media wearing the item several times, making the fashion item popular.

Squid Game in real life?
According to the NY Post, Business Insider, and others, North Korea executed a man in November 2021 for selling USB drives containing the hit South Korean television show Squid Game. The country also introduced a law in December 2020 that toughens the penalties for consuming media from South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

Radio Free Asia:
Radio Free Asia is regularly cited in the Western media when reporting some of the most outrageous news about North Korea. RFA is an independent news agency funded by the US government, so many are skeptical about its agenda.

Pooh – Jinping:
As long as China, North Korea’s closest ally, bans something as harmless as Winnie The Pooh due to mocking online comparisons with Xi Jinping, then these stories about North Korea don’t seem so absurd. Nonetheless, when it comes to news, criteria are very critical.

Dynasty of Kim:
Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s father, and Kim Il-sung, his grandfather, are following in many ways the steps of the youngest Kim. North Korea has been ruled by the Kim family since its foundation in 1945.

Like father, like son:
During his rule from 1993 to 2011, Kim Jong-il was described by The New York Times as a leader who ‘presided with an iron hand over a country he kept on the edge of starvation and collapse’. He was as well known for his eccentricity as for his autocracy. Despite Kim Jong-il’s love for western media, such as James Bond movies, he was wary of its influence. BBC reported in 2005 about a North Korean TV show called ‘Let’s Trim Our Hair According to the Socialist Lifestyle.’

Real-life dystopia:
Apparently, the television show suggested that long hair had a negative effect on the male brain, sucking up vital nutrients. On top of that, it shared the names and addresses of wrongdoers recorded on the street, so they could be publicly shamed.

Capitalist symbols:
North Korea continues to heavily regulate the fashion of its citizens. The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported in May that Kim Jong-un banned skinny jeans and some piercings because they were symbols of capitalism. Would you see a symbol of capitalism in North Korea? Coca-Cola. It is not only Cuba and North Korea that have access to the American soda brand, one of the most recognizable products worldwide.

Fashion is hardly the only thing that is restricted. Contraceptives are also prohibited in North Korea. According to reports, the country is trying to reverse its falling birth rate. UN report notes, however, that more women in South Korea use contraceptives than their South Korean counterparts, despite them being illegal.

That time of the month:
North Korean women are also affected by the lack of sanitary pads and other women’s hygiene products. Women tend to make their own pads out of cotton and reuse them as much as possible, according to a female defector interviewed by the BBC.


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