New Emissary

5 Banned Things in Asia

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New Emissary

5 Banned Things in Asia

Among things prohibited in the Asia-Pacific so far this year are junk food ads in Korea, mullets in Iran and facial hair in Japan.

1. Junk Food Commercials (South Korea)

In January, Korea’s Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs imposed a strict ‘junk food curfew,’ for which TV commercials that promote processed and unhealthy foods with high fat, sugar and salt content (like pizza and hamburgers) are banned from airing between 5 and 7pm.

All TV ads (including promotional video and audio) for culinary items exceeding 250 calories, with less than 2 grams of protein or more than 4 grams of saturated fat or 17 grams of sugar per serving, are also included in the ban.

The new rules came into place after a couple of years of warnings by experts of the likely link between growing child obesity in the country and TV commercials ‘encouraging consumption of these products.’

Sounds like anti-childhood obesity crusader and US First Lady Michelle Obama might want to take a page out of the South Korean government’s strategy on this issue.


Jae Yong, BAE

2. Beards (Japan)

In May, the city of Isesaki in Japan’s Gunma Prefecture banned beards for its entire male staff. There are mixed reports on the real reasons behind this. Some say it’s because facial hair takes away from the image of public servants as decent and proper-looking. Other sources claim it’s for climate change—Japan has for years now in summers implemented a ‘Cool Biz’ policy in its offices that promotes cooler attire for workers to keep air conditioning use down.

In a satirical and witty opinion piece for The Japan Times, Japan-based professor Jay Klaphake, said regarding the decision:

‘Isesaki deserves our thanks for recognizing that allowing beards is the first step along a slippery slope. If we let government workers get away with improper grooming, the next thing you know they will start being creative and ask inappropriate questions like, “If we are actually trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, maybe we shouldn’t make expressways toll-free?”’


Flickr, A. Page

A. Page / Flickr

3. On-line Dating (China)

Since June 15, 2.3 million members of China’s armed forces have been prohibited from on-line dating. If that isn’t enough to make it tough on single and isolated members of the country’s enlisted men, blogs, personal websites and visits to Internet cafes were also forbidden.

The Internet rules in China are part of internal affairs regulations drawn up by the Communist Party’s Central Military Affairs Commission. It’s still undetermined whether the military men will be completely prohibited from all social networking sites; however, civilians working for military research and training academies are exempt from these particular rules.

Of course, this isn’t completely out-of-the-blue. It turns out that according to some experts, such restraints are necessary to prevent security breaches for a Chinese military that places a particularly high value on secrecy.

But on the other hand, online dating sites have never been a forum for too much disclosure…Have they?

Flickr, schmeeve

schmeeve / Flickr

4. The Mullet (Iran)

Earlier this month Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance released a catalogue of ‘Islamically permissible hairstyles’ for men, emphasizing that the purpose of the guide is to ‘protect culture and respect Iranian tradition,’ by coming up with appropriate hairstyles that ‘confront Western cultural invasion.’ The media jumped on the story—most giving it the same catchy treatment: Iran bans the mullet (an obvious attempt to appeal to our tendency to mock and despise the unconventional and outdated ‘do).

The BBC did, however, make sure to point out that other hair trends like ponytails and ‘elaborate’ spikes were also not included in the state-approved list of proper styles.

In an interesting analysis put forth by Religion Dispatches writer Hussein Rashid, its suggested that the decision by Tehran showed weakness in the current regime because of its blatant use of ‘faith as a cudgel to demonstrate that they do still have some power.’

LA-Zombie5. LA Zombie (Australia)

Australia doesn’t often make it into the news for its prohibitions, but it has actually raised some eyebrows with its recent ban on the film LA Zombie.

According to Reuters this week, the Canadian indie film that is described as queer zombie cinema, has been banned from the Melbourne International Film Festival, which runs July 22 to August 8, for having content that is too suggestive—explicit scenes of sex and violence.

However, while the director of LA Zombie, Bruce LaBruce, calls the classification board hypocritical’ in its decision, he’s actually ‘delighted’ that the film’s been banned, stating ‘the more they try to suppress a film, the more people will want to see it. It gives me a profile I didn’t have yesterday.’