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I would like to visit North Korea someday, because it is a rather unique country. However, I am guy with a long hair which I am unwilling to cut and I've heard that they are strongly enforcing gender roles.

More specifically, there was even a television series called "Let's trim our hair in accordance with the socialist lifestyle" that prescribed acceptable hairstyles, which are different for each gender and it seems that long hair for males is strongly discouraged. The rules that apply to locals and rules that apply to tourists are not quite the same, but that doesn't guarantee that short hair isn't enforced for male tourists.

So, is it possible and safe for a long-haired guy to visit North Korea as much as it is for a "typically looking" person?

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7  
To be fair, that tv show ran a DECADE ago... –  Mark Mayo May 2 at 8:48

2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's pretty hard to prove a negative, but:

  1. The largest operator of trips to North Korea, Koryo Tours, doesn't mention long hair as an issue in their extensive FAQ or Rules sections;
  2. It's not particularly hard to find trip photos featuring various un-socialist hairstyles like this;
  3. And I'm positive I once read a Pyongyang trip report written by a ponytailed dude, but for the life of me I can't find it now.
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You might be remembering the trip report by Simon Bone. He notes that during his visit "I noticed one Korean looking at me, and discussing me with his friend: they were shocked by my long hair." This trip took place in 1998, so this obviously is not current information! simonbone.com/northkorea.html –  Byron Schmuland May 17 at 19:01
    
That's the one! Simon Bone is also the maintainer of pyongyang-metro.com. –  jpatokal May 17 at 21:35

What you need to do here is to do some homework before you commit yourself to traveling to North Korea. Contact the tour operator and also the North Korean embassy. You should ask specific questions about the hairstyle you have and send a recent photograph. Find out if they have any restrictions about hairstyles that apply to tourists also.

A decision as to whether a long haired man should travel to North Korea can be made only by the individual himself taking into consideration his own personal background and other pertinant factors. North Korea is a very authoritative regime and there are a lot of ways people can end up in prison or a forced labor camp and having long hair is one of them, at least for the local citizens. Whether that presents a risk for visiting foreigners is something you are going to have to check into.

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