There is such a thing as the Seoul City Government Student Human Rights Ordinance, and in it it’s stated that public schools must allow students the right to grow their hair however long they please. Fair law, right? Well, a study taken this past fall confirms that over half of all Seoul schools flat-out ignore this ordinance: 88 percent of middle and high schools have hair restrictions, just as a little over half of all schools in the city do. At one school, according to newspaper the Hankyoreh, a teacher in charge of the disciplinary division personally cut the hair of 20 students at the school gates on the morning of Oct. 8.
Protesting youth can blame Lee Dae-young, acting chief of Seoul’s ministry of education. The municipal branch that’s meant to enforce the ordinance in fact repeated to Lee that he should enforce it, to which he effectively replied, No, let teachers do whatever they want. He has since totally ignored the government’s recommendations that he play by the rules. To quote one anonymous but perhaps villainous Seoul teacher in the Hankyoreh: The time for that kind of nasty hair is over.