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

Five female students at a high school in Hyesan, Yanggang Province, were recently busted by an enforcement team for having “inappropriate hairstyles.”

According to a Daily NK source in Yanggang Province on Thursday, the authorities have recently been intensifying their crackdowns and controls on so-called “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior” perpetrated by young people in Hyesan.

In fact, teams made up of members of the provincial and city branches of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League have been patrolling schools and streets to crackdown on students from junior middle schools and senior middle schools — analogous to middle schools and high schools in South Korea — for prohibited clothing and hairstyles.  

On June 20, one such team on street patrol busted five girls in their second year at Hyehwa Senior Middle School for dying their hair. North Korea takes issue with students dying their hair a color other than black, claiming such actions encourage “capitalist delinquency.”

Officials from the provincial Socialist Patriotic Youth League pressed the students about dying their hair, taking them directly to the enforcement team’s office to write letters of self-criticism.

Above all else, the team took issue that the students was made up of so-called “enthusiastic individuals,” including the head of the committee of their class’s elementary party organization.

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

The authorities are dealing with the bust as an especially serious matter because “enthusiastic individuals” – who should be role models for other students – engaged in anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior.

“Graduates from senior middle school have been caught and punished for dying their hair or wearing strange clothing, but it’s rare for senior middle school students to get in trouble for dying their hair,” said the source. “The party is intensifying ideological education aimed at the country’s youth, but with problems emerging even among young students, they’re taking the matter very seriously.”

The students are being called into the provincial office of the Socialist Patriotic Youth League every day to write self-criticism letters from morning to evening, the source said. 

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

The source said controls on the youth are intensifying every year, but “non-socialist phenomena” continue to emerge among students.

“The authorities are intensifying their crackdowns on anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior, and they’ll likely use this incident to intensify their crackdowns on the youth even more,” he said.

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Lee Chae Un is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. She can be reached at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.