Kim Jong-un's outrageous North Korea rules - including 'approved haircuts' (2023)

North Korea is undoubtedly one of the world's most secretive countries, which means there are so many things we don't know about it.

Formed just after the Second World War, around 25 million people live in North Korea, which has been ruled by three men from the same family since 1948.

Kim Il-sung was the country's first supreme leader, until he died in 1994.

Kim Jong-un has been in power since 2013, but many of his grandfather's bizarre rules remain in place, from banning Coca-Cola to capital punishment for folding newspapers.

Here are 25 of the most outrageous rules in North Korea:

Three generations rule

Arguably the harshest law, the 'three generations of punishment' rule means if one person commits a crime and sent to a prison camp, that person's family can also be sent with them.

This rule was believed to have been introduced in the 1980s to eliminate the 'seed' of class enemies.

Internet access is severely restricted

Although North Korea does have the internet, less than 1% of the population uses it. Only political leaders, students at elite universities and very few others have access to it.

Instead, locals use an intranet called “Kwangmyong". There are between 1,000-5,500 sites available on it, with access to international websites banned.

What's more, although access to the intranet is free, a computer costs on average the equivalent of three months salary in North Korea.

It's illegal to leave North Korea without permission

Anyone living in North Korea who fancies a holiday, or leaving all together, needs permission from the government to do so.

But that doesn't stop many attempting to leave, with a safe refuge located in South Korea - however, that area is heavily militarised and filled with mines, making it almost impossible to flee.

(Video) North Korea's Bizarre HAIRCUT Rules #shorts

Others try escaping to China, but anyone caught there is considered an "illegal immigrant" and immediately sent back.

But tighter border controls make it incredibly difficult to leave North Korea, and anyone caught doing so could be sent to labour camps or even executed.

Religion and ban on bibles

North Korea officially allows freedom of religion, but the practice is very different.

In fact, it is illegal to own a bible, with Christianity not really welcomed. In fact, anyone found to be practising Christianity faces arrest and sent to labour camps.

The nation's official ideology is Juche, which has roots of Marxism and Korean nationalism .

It is illegal to make international phone calls

North Korea has a mobile phone service, which serves around three million people. However, it forbids residents making phone calls outside of the country.

Anyone caught doing so could result in execution. In 2007 a man who made several international calls was punished by death.


If you have ever seen footage of North Korea's highways, you have probably noticed they are empty most of the time.

That's because only male government officials can drive. That estimates that only one in every 100 people in the country have a car.

It's illegal to smile or drink alcohol on July 8

July 8 is a day of mourning for North Korean President Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994.

That means every year on this day, you are not allowed to smile or talk loudly as it is seen as disrespectful to the former president.

(Video) 21 strange rules in Kim Jong un's North Korea

People are also restricted from some activities on this day, including drinking alcohol.

Don't fall asleep in a meeting

Falling asleep in a meeting can land you in big trouble in North Korea. In 2015, the country's defense minister was publicly executed an anti-aircraft gun for falling asleep during one of Kim Jong-un's events, which was considered disrespectful.

It's illegal not to vote at elections

Election day in North Korea means everyone aged 17 and over must go out and vote.

But, the ballot paper has just one name on it. And you don't tick a box or fill anything in - you simply take the piece of paper and put it into the ballot box.

Marijuana is legal - no really

It's perfectly legal to buy and smoke weed in public and in private in North Korea.

There is no law that punishes the trade and consumption of the drug that is forbidden in most other countries.

Basketball laws are completely different

As you probably know by now, North Korea like to do things differently. Basketball is hugely popular there, so much so, they decided to make up their own rules for the sport.

Perhaps it is because the sport was invented in the US and the history between the two countries is not too pleasant.

No jeans or piercings are allowed

It is forbidden to wear jeans or have piercings in North Korea. Kim Jong-un introduced this rule in 2016 to remove the influence of 'western fashion'.

Tourists are followed almost everywhere

(Video) Strict Rules Kim Jong-un Makes His Wife Follow

If you are thinking of visiting North Korea one day, be aware that you will be accompanied by guides and officials, and you must follow specific rules, such as always asking permission to take photos.

Tourists are also not allowed to use the local national currency, and international visitors are not allowed to visit certain shops.

You don't get to decide what job you want

North Korean residents do not have the freedom to choose their jobs. Instead, the government picks people's professions based on the needs of the country.

You can only have certain haircuts

A myth was put to rest that all men must have the same haircut as Kim Jong-un. While this has been confirmed not to be the case, there are restrictions as to what haircut you can have.

In 2013, the Supreme Leader of North Korea introduced a list of haircuts residents can have. There are reportedly 18 choices for women and ten for men.

Locals cannot choose where they live

North Koreans don't get to choose where to live. The government decides where people live based on social class. In fact, you can only move to the capital, Pyongyang, if the government allows it.

If a fire breaks out, you have to save pictures of North Korean political leaders

Every home in North Korea must have paintings of its past leaders Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung – Kim Jong-un’s dad and granddad.

And, if a fire should break out at a home, locals must first save those paintings before anything else - even family members.

Earlier this year, it was reported that a mother faced jail for saving her children instead of the portraits.

TV is controlled by the government

Reports claim that North Koreans can only watch three TV channels, all of which are government-controlled.

Anyone caught watching foreign programmes face harsh punishments, meaning locals may have little knowledge of what is happening outside of North Korea.

(Video) EXPENSIVE Items Kim Jong Un Owns!

Anyone called Kim must change their name

Kim Jong-un reportedly banned anyone in North Korea having the same name as him.

Do not fold newspapers

Newspapers are sold in North Korea, but it is illegal to fold a paper. The reason is that pictures of dictators appear throughout the newspaper, so creasing it would be considered disrespectful.

No heating or hot water

There is not hot water supply in North Korea or no central heating. So residents have to find and stock firewood and coal for their homes.

Anyone wanting a hot bath must visit public ones.

You must bow to the statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il

Anyone who visits Pyongyang must bow to the two statues of former North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Locals and tourists should also leave flowers as a mark of respect.

Coca-Cola is banned

The popular fizzy drink is not on sale in two countries - Cuba and North Korea.

That is because these countries do not trade with the US.

And so is McDonald's

There are no McDonald's restuarants in North Korea, partly down to the 'western culture' and also due to the sheer popularity of street kiosks with traditional Korean food.

Most North Koreans don't know what condoms are

Birth control is banned in the country as leader Kim Jong-un strives to create an even bigger population of socialist workers.

(Video) Crazy Laws That Only Exist In North Korea! #Shorts

But that doesn't stop people smuggling condoms into the country, mainly for prostitutes to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexual diseases.

Condoms are prohibited for manufacture or sale in North Korea.


What hairstyle is allowed in North Korea? ›

North Korean Women's Hairstyles:

Here, women are allowed to have a hairstyle based on their marital status. Married Women are allowed to keep their tresses short while unmarried is allowed to let loose for longer and can have curlier locks at the bottom. One can also have a minor feather cut.

What are 3 things that are not allowed in North Korea? ›

North Korea has strict laws about what you can bring into the country. It's illegal to bring in religious, pornographic or political items. Declare all published material and electronic devices when you arrive. It's also illegal to knowingly or unknowingly possess items that breach North Korean law.

How many different haircuts are allowed in North Korea? ›

North Koreans have a choice of 15 state-approved haircuts, a journalist who has been given access to the country has claimed. Illustrated guides have appeared in hair salons in the capital Pyongyang showing haircuts deemed acceptable.

What are the horrible rules in North Korea? ›

One of the most shocking abuses of human rights in North Korea is the country's three-generation punishment rule. If an individual is found guilty of a crime and sent to a prison camp, so too will their entire family, including their parents and grandparents must remain there for life.

What is the Korean haircut law? ›

It said that hair should be kept between 1 and 5 cm (0.4 and 2.0 in) in length, and recommended haircuts for men every 15 days. The country's official hairstyles did allow men over 50 years old to grow their upper hair up to 7 cm (2.8 in) long, to disguise balding.

Can you own a microwave in North Korea? ›

North Koreans face power cuts every night due to the energy crisis in the country and for using electricity need permission and owning a microwave is illegal.

Why can't Americans go to North Korea? ›

Do not travel to North Korea due to the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals. Exercise increased caution to North Korea due to the critical threat of wrongful detention.

Are sanitary pads allowed in North Korea? ›

' North Korea has ban on manufacturing hygiene products like sanitary pads and tampons in the country. To cope with this practice, North Korean women is said to make their own sanitary products from cotton cloth materials available around them and also reuse them as much as possible.

Is cleavage allowed in Korea? ›

Although it is becoming more acceptable with modern Korean fashion, there are still reservations about showing cleavage. Even if there are tops or blouses with cleavage, women take extra precaution generally when sitting, bending, and bowing.

Are Korean beauty standards high? ›

Korean Beauty Standards Are Quite High.

Small facial features and light skin are preferred by Koreans, who desire thin, fresh, and youthful looks. In contrast to Western beauty standards, curvaceous figures such as Kim Kardashian or Rihanna are just considered too much in Korean beauty standards.

Why can't you wear blue jeans in North Korea? ›

North Korea has declared wearing blue jeans as illegal as it symbolises American imperialism, which the east Asian nation terms as its enemy. The country, in an attempt to restrict western influence on its people, has also banned piercings, and issued strict guidelines for choosing a hairstyle.

Can you only have a certain haircut in North Korea? ›

The rumour later became that people had to choose between a number of different North Korean haircuts, all approved, again not true. Tourists travelling in North Korea at the time we're able to quickly debunk this which numerous news articles were backing their stories from an unknown source within the DPRK.

Can North Koreans have tattoos? ›

There is no law against tattoos in North Korea, but they are subject to certain regulations and need to have some sort of ideological element. “In North Korea, tattoos must carry praise of the Kim family or carry a teaching of the state,” said Hyun Namhyuk, who escaped North Korea and recently settled in South Korea.

Does North Korea allow condoms? ›

Condoms. Did you know that condoms are a very popular gift item in North Korea? That's because the country has banned all kinds and sorts of birth control, so getting a condom is next to impossible.

What is the most popular hairstyle in Korea? ›

What is the most famous Korean haircut? A side-swept pixie haircut is the most popular Korean haircut.


1. Even Your Hair Cuts Are Restricted By The Government, Top 5 Weirdest LAWS in NORTH KOREA!
(Everything About North Korea)
2. 12 Crazy Laws That Only Exist In North Korea
(Facts Verse)
3. Everyday Things that are Illegal in North Korea
4. North Korea Orders Kim Jong-un Haircuts For ALL Men
(The Young Turks)
5. 5 Strange Laws in Kim Jong Un's North Korea | Entertainment Video
(Creative Guidelines)
6. Bizarre Things That Only Exist In North Korea
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arline Emard IV

Last Updated: 01/18/2023

Views: 6073

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arline Emard IV

Birthday: 1996-07-10

Address: 8912 Hintz Shore, West Louie, AZ 69363-0747

Phone: +13454700762376

Job: Administration Technician

Hobby: Paintball, Horseback riding, Cycling, Running, Macrame, Playing musical instruments, Soapmaking

Introduction: My name is Arline Emard IV, I am a cheerful, gorgeous, colorful, joyous, excited, super, inquisitive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.