North Korea has made it illegal for women to wear shorts. This is part of the country’s new crackdown on anything that is seen as foreign or capitalist.
Under the Rejection of Reactionary Thought and Culture Act, which was recently put into effect in the hermit kingdom, officials said that any woman who wears clothes that don’t reach below the knee line goes against the rules of “socialist etiquette.”
Women in North Korea who try to beat the heat by wearing shorts are being punished, according to reports from Radio Free Asia, since the government views shorts that go above the knee as an incursion of capitalist fashion.
This comes when temperatures rise above 30 degrees Celsius in a country where summers are long and humid and where most people already endure terrible conditions under Kim Jong Un’s inherited rule.
This latest crackdown on “anti-socialist behaviour” is yet another example of Pyongyang’s enforcement of the vaguely worded Rejection of Reactionary Thought and Culture Act, which was passed in 2020 with the goal of eliminating cultural practises that are seen as South Korean, foreign, or capitalist.
Most of the time, citizens who break the law are caught watching or distributing South Korean or Western media, but it has also been used to crack down on things like window tinting, speaking and texting in South Korean slang or word spellings, teaching youth how to dance, changing their hair colour, and wearing unapproved clothing styles.
Long prison terms and even executions have been imposed for offences that would never be seen as serious anywhere else in the world but North Korea. Although men and women are equally subject to the law, the present crackdown is directed solely at women who choose to wear short skirts or dresses.
On Tuesday, a North Pyongan resident told RFA’s Korean Service that a new policy prohibiting women from exposing too much skin below the knee was implemented to preserve the legacy of socialist manners and lifestyle.
“As more and more women wear shorts in the cities, including here in Sinuiju, the authorities are writing them up for violations of dress etiquette,” she said. “Yesterday, a police patrol arrested 10 women in the marketplace for wearing shorts. They had to write a statement of self-criticism and sign a document saying they would face legal consequences if they were caught wearing shorts again.”
This is not the first time women have been treated more harshly than men by the law. Last month, RFA reported that only women received punishment for being caught with cigarettes in public areas.