Robyn Vinter: Here are a few theories about why North Korea got cross with an Ealing barber

In the past few days we’ve been following with relish the news that North Korean officials attempted to get a poster of Kim Jong-un taken down from a west London hair salon.

M&M Hair Academy in South Ealing created a poster of the dictator with the phrase “Bad hair day?” emblazoned below his famous half-skinhead, half-90s-curtains combo.

Kim Jong-un poster

After a couple of days of the poster being in the window, the owner of the business received an unexpected visit from suited men from North Korea’s embassy demanding to have it taken down.

The salon, quite rightly, refused. The poster has now become a bit of a tourist attraction, with people stopping by to have their photo taken with it.

I can’t imagine what North Korean embassy officials actually do while stationed in their semi-detached house in Gunnersbury. I must admit, I’m no expert in the day-to-day running of an embassy. But considering the tiny North Korean population and the restrictions on visitors, it’s not like they can be inundated with requests for consular assistance.

I reckon they’d be overcome with excitement seeing the face of the Dear Leader staring cheerfully out at them from a shiny barbers’ window. “Finally, something to do!”

Or maybe, considering North Korean men are apparently all expected to sport the “Un” hairstyle, the officials were just offended their hairstyle had been labelled “bad” and wanted rid of the poster before anyone else saw it.

Or perhaps, having reached a respected position in North Korean foreign affairs, where they’re entrusted with running the embassy in London, the men in question were disappointed to find so much freedom of democracy, and were yearning to throw a bit of dictatorship around.

Image is pretty important to North Koreans - we get it. On the rare occasion western journalists are allowed into the country, we’re treated to countless images of painfully precise military parades with lines of robot-like soldiers making exactly the same movements.

But surely North Korea’s energies could be better spent on… oh I don’t know, trying to get on with the rest of the world?

According to barber Karim Nabbach, no-one at his salon has asked for the “Un”, but I suspect that will change the minute east Londoners cotton on.


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