published : 2023-11-26

Kim Jong Un's Newest Problem: The Mystery of Hair Loss Among North Koreans

Both North and South Korea are grappling with a surge in hair loss, but effective treatment remains elusive

A North Korean citizen with a concerned expression on their face, visibly showing signs of hair loss. (Photo prompt: Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, is facing an unusual and perplexing issue: a growing number of its citizens are experiencing thinning hair or even going completely bald, according to experts from South Korea.

Experts have identified several factors contributing to this phenomenon, including infections that resulted in hair loss as a side effect and the use of harsh chemical ingredients in soap and laundry detergent.

However, finding mild chemical products is not easy for the average North Korean, explained Dr. Choi Jeong Hoon, a senior researcher at the Public Policy Research Institute in Korea University.

Sadly, the cost of hair loss treatment is prohibitively high for ordinary residents, making it unaffordable and often ineffective.

A group of South Korean experts discussing hair loss treatments, contemplating various solutions. (Photo prompt: Taken with Nikon D850)

Notably, both pharmaceutical and cosmetic treatments are widely available in North Korea, but their efficacy is dubious due to the lack of regulation and verification of their ingredients.

Ahn Kyung Soo, the head of, a blog focused on health issues in North Korea, revealed that many treatments resemble oriental medicines and offer minimal effects.

For instance, some treatments involve using a needle-like hairbrush dipped in a glass bottle to stimulate the scalp.

Additionally, the usage of military caps without proper ventilation has been identified as another potential cause of hair loss due to bacterial buildup and clogged pores.

An open bottle of hair tonic made from traditional Oriental herbs, commonly used in North Korea as a potential remedy for hair loss. (Photo prompt: Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III)

This issue extends beyond North Korea as South Korea has also witnessed a surge in hair loss in recent years, which even influenced a presidential election.

Candidate Lee Jae-myung gained support by proposing that the government should cover hair-loss treatments, resonating with the one in five South Koreans who suffer from hair loss.

Online communities for bald people have rallied around Lee's proposal as South Korea currently only covers treatments for certain diseases causing hair loss.

Ultimately, the mystery of increasing hair loss in both North and South Korea persists, leaving citizens grappling with the unknown while searching for effective solutions.