Under the orders of Kim Jong-un, the DPRK authorities have begun to regulate another aspect of North Korean fashion: the use of nail polish has become prohibited.
According to one of our business correspondents who recently returned from North Korea, the use of nail polish is being regulated nationwide. Women’s bright nails are said to represent the “yellow winds of capitalism”, and the painting of one’s nails is considered a “depraved act which goes against socialist values”. In addition, nail polish has been identified as an “ideological contaminant”.
Our correspondent added that people are complaining in a surprisingly outspoken way, describing how “there is nothing left to regulate, but the authorities are now regulating the use of nail polish.”
Many North Korean women have been influenced, either directly or indirectly, by forbidden foreign culture such as South Korean drama, in which the notion of femininity is expressed through fashionable presentation. It is in this context that North Korean women have come to view nail polish as a way of individual expression. However, the DPRK authorities view nail polish as a dangerous symptom of capitalism.
Yet people always find a way around strict enforcement of regulations. One source told us that the price of transparent nail polish in North Korea has shot up. The ban on nail polish is having the opposite effect to what was intended, as women are becoming even more determined to paint their nails.
Another source told us, “finger-nails are visible, but toe-nails are harder to inspect. Some women paint their toe-nails.”