Blue jeans are illegal in North Korea. The reason behind it is rather ridiculous, but being ridiculous is what the reclusive socialist state does best. What is it about blue jeans that could warrant North Korea banning them throughout the country?
The country is as well known for its cruel and oppressive nature as it is for it’s wacky leaders and odd laws. Who would ever forget the list of approved haircuts in North Korea (let’s hope not the hair dresser)? To people living in a free and democratic society these kinds of laws seem utterly insane, and they are, but to people living in these authoritarian regimes it’s just part of everyday life. However, these laws have nothing to do with being fair and just, or sane or insane. They are about control and conveying a message. So what could this message possibly be? To find out we must look back at its history.
Blue jeans were invented by Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss in 1873. Generally the pants are made from denim or dungaree cloth which makes them incredibly hard wearing and long lasting. Originally used by miners, cowboys and other industries that require ward wearing pants, they began to climb in popularity during the 1950’s, especially with the youth at the time.
Today, the pants have become one if the most popular forms of casual dress around the world. They now come in a range of colors and styles, but they will forever be seen as part of American culture. This is the reason blue jeans are illegal in North Korea.
Why are blue jeans in North Korea illegal?
Blue jeans are illegal in North Korea because they are a symbol of the capitalist West, specifically America. By banning anyone from wearing them the leaders are delivering an anti US, and anti West message.
What makes blue jeans illegal in North Korea really weird is that they had plans to export them to Sweden in 2009. The plan was for the PUB department store to sell the jeans under the label, Noko. Following international outcry and condemnation, the department store withdrew from the deal. It seems as though the manufacture of jeans is permitted, but not the wearing of them.
We must however keep in mind that all information within the country is controlled, and any information that gets to the outside world may also be sketchy. Practically everything we know about the country comes from dissidents who have managed to escape the oppressive government, and may not be true. We’re not saying it isn’t true. It is after all the best and only information that we have to go by about North Korea.