North Korea has intensified its ban on Western attire, prohibiting shorts, even amidst the peak summer heat. This directive seemingly targets only women, as indicated by local citizens.
Officials are intensifying their scrutiny of women donning shorts, handing out warnings, and sometimes making arrests. Those apprehended are mandated to commit in writing that they will refrain from wearing shorts in the future.
This new directive is an offshoot of a broader 2020 law aimed at quashing “anti-socialist behaviour.” Shorts, in this context, are deemed a representation of Western and capitalist influences. Such gender-biased policies aren’t new; previously, only women caught smoking in public were penalized.
This gender-skewed policy has triggered frustration among North Korean women, drawing attention to the evident gender disparity. North Korea’s notoriety for micromanaging its citizens’ lives is well-known, encompassing a range of restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms. Global entities like Human Rights Watch have consistently condemned the North Korean regime for curtailing freedoms and harsh punishments to dissenters, often including torture and gruelling labour in political prisons.
Even as Kim Jong Un’s leadership emphasizes military prowess, especially in the nuclear and missile areas, ordinary North Koreans face resource scarcity, difficult living standards, and the absence of essential commodities. The prohibition on shorts further illustrates the regime’s obsession with exerting control, even in the face of soaring temperatures.
While South Korea basks in technological progress and economic prosperity, North Korea remains an outlier due to its self-imposed isolation. Under Kim Jong Un, the nation continues its discourse against Western influences, perpetuating the narrative of external adversaries. Recent strategic moves, such as the ousting of a prominent military leader and calls for ramping up arms production, emphasize the regime’s commitment to military preparedness and dominance.