A woman in her 20s forcibly filmed for wearing foreign styles of clothing. (Daily NK)

North Korean authorities have filmed women caught up in crackdowns on “capitalist” fashion and are using the footage in lectures for people in North Hamgyong Province, Daily NK has learned. 

Through a source in the country, Daily NK confirmed that the Socialist Patriotic Youth League has recently been using the footage for lectures in Chongjin.

According to the source, the video-based lectures started in early April. At the lectures, the authorities are stressing that wearing one’s clothing and hair in the “North Korean style” plays an important role in establishing a socialist lifestyle.

Basically, the authorities are emphasizing that they will thoroughly crack down on improper dress and hairstyles, labeling them “anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior.”

Meanwhile, Rodong Sinmun reported on Sunday that the party’s consistent position has been the “thorough establishment of socialist lifestyles in all sectors of social life.” The paper also repeated that wearing one’s clothing and hair in the North Korean way plays an important role in establishing a socialist lifestyle.

However, the issue is that young people recently busted by Socialist Patriotic Youth League enforcement teams on the streets of Chongjin appear in the video.

Most of them were women in their 20s and 30s and were forcibly filmed for wearing tight pants or dying their hair. All were regarded as “capitalist delinquents.” In the video, the women are even described as having “indecent clothes” and “impure ideology.”

The video again reveals the country’s propaganda focus that one’s clothing reflects not only one’s appearance but also one’s ideological, spiritual, and cultural “level.” 

The lectures reportedly include the statement that adhering to “uniform” fashion is “directly connected to the future of the motherland.” Through such statements, the authorities appear to be aiming to quiet the progressive spirit and creativity of young people while preventing them from growing “ideologically disaffected” through exposure to foreign cultures.

The source said it remains to be seen whether this sort of propaganda will have its intended effect. The authorities have conducted lectures with videos such as this every year since 2018, yet they appear to have had little impact. 

The source also said that the fact individual organizations are deploying enforcement teams to engage in crackdowns on top of the activities of a national organization — the “unified command on non-socialist and anti-socialist behavior,” or “Unified Command 82” — suggests these crackdowns are not effective. 

In fact, the source said that the authorities have recently been bolstering their struggle against anti-socialist and non-socialist behavior, but more and more young people are wearing their clothes and hair based on what they see in “capitalist movies.” Because of this, the government has put the Socialist Patriotic Youth League on high alert, conducting lectures and workshops to ideologically train young people.

He further reported that young people busted by Socialist Patriotic Youth League enforcers are being dragged before city and county branches of the league where they must write “self-criticism letters,” pledging not to repeat their mistake before being released. 

However, young people swept up in the crackdowns continue to flout the norms, subtly dressing and wearing their hair in ways that fly under the fashion police’s radar, he added. 

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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Kim Chae Hwan is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He can be contacted at dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.