North Korean beauty and fashion has been in the news lately, apparently the western educated new young leader Kim Jung-un has recently allowed women to wear earrings, platform heels, and pants in an effort to maintain popularity with the nation’s youth.
In a somewhat related article koreaBANG examines the North Korean hairstyling industry. My friends over at The North Korean Blog were stuck by the methods used by the state to select and nurture young candidates for careers in the hairdressing industry, and how it relates to insights we gleaned about the North Koran comedy profession:
In order to obtain the qualifications to become a hairdresser, those who receive recommendations as middle school graduates or from other workplaces are trained through education at a hairdressing or beauty school in each town or district more than once per year, and in September of every year they even hold a competition for the north’s most skilled beauty salon, ‘Nationwide Hairdressers’ and Beauticians’ Competition’ in Pyongyang.
The koreaBANG article had me reminiscing about the afternoon we shared at the Hamhung flower park and pavilion along with couples on their wedding day. Deemed an auspicious day for tying the knot, the park was filled with newlywed couples having their formal pictures taken. Many of the women were dressed in their finest chosŏn-ot and had their hair done up in elaborate, yet tasteful, styles. We were more than welcome to take pictures of the couples and our presence actually created a bit of a sensation, North Korean wedding photographers snuck around to try to candidly fit us in their shots, and a few families actually thrust flowers in our hands and had us pose with the newlyweds!
Brides and their hairstyles in Hamhung flower park – all photos by Joseph A Ferris II
Who says communism has to be drab? In North Korea your eyes will be assaulted by the dark green fields of the countryside, the intense reds of the ever present propaganda posters and billboards, and by women wearing the Korean traditional dress, the hanbok – also called chosŏn-ot, in every color imaginable. Of course I visited during the summer, I’m guessing in the winter you will just see a lot of white.
Local guide in a yellow chosŏn-ot at the Pohyon Temple, Mount Myohyang, North Korea.