North Korean Officials Pay Visit to London Salon Over “Bad Hair Day” Ad Featuring Kim Jong-un

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 15 2014 8:24 PM

North Korean Officials Pay Visit to London Salon Over “Bad Hair Day” Ad Featuring Kim Jong-un

How's my hair?

Photograph by Ed Jones/AFP/GettyImages.

Nobody wants to be the poster boy for a bad haircut. Presumably, Kim Jong-un is among that group. And when it comes to hair, if you needed proof that the North Korean leader’s skin may not be as thick as your run-of-the-mill dictator, it came from London this week.

It all started when a London hair salon, M&M Hair Academy, used Kim’s smiling visage and close-cropped hairdo as part of a promotional campaign. And not in a good way. The salon pinned up a poster on its window with Kim’s picture and the text: “Bad Hair Day?” As a further enticement, the poster offered a 15 percent discount to customers.


No a big deal, right?

Well, the salon put up the poster to drum up extra business on Wednesday last week. On Thursday, two men claiming to be North Korean officials showed up at M&M asking why their leader was on the poster and demanding to see the manager. M&M’s proprietor, Mo Nabbach, told Agence France-Presse the officials photographed his salon, demanded his name and ordered him to remove the poster, which they deemed disrespectful. "The two guys were wearing suits and they were very serious. It was very threatening,” said Nabbach. Not one to be intimidated by hair henchmen, Nabbach stood up for his rights (of sorts) saying: “Listen this isn't North Korea, this is England, we live in a democracy so I'm afraid you're going to have to get out of my salon,” according to the BBC.

A little worried that maybe the poster issue wasn’t yet over, Nabbach also called the cops to report the incident and was told the North Korean embassy had also contacted the police about the poster in question. A London police spokesman told the Guardian: "I can confirm that the North Korean embassy have contacted us and that we are in liaison with them. Officers spoke to all parties. No offences have been disclosed."

The motivation for the ad campaign is the widely circulated story about North Korea’s strict regulation of hairstyles in the country. “Obviously in the current news there has been this story that North Korean men are only allowed one haircut,” one of the salon’s barbers told the BBC. That one haircut, unsurprisingly, looks a lot like Kim Jong-un’s. Slate’s Joshua Keating, however, warns that you should be skeptical of claims of barbershop big brother in North Korea. But, as Keating writes: “This is not to say that the North Korean government hasn’t been unusually preoccupied with the hair of its citizens.”

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 1:52 PM Julian Casablancas’ New Album Sounds Like the Furthest Thing From the Strokes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.