Rather than traffic lights (and probably because they can’t afford to run and maintain them), larger cities in North Korea employ attractive and immaculately uniformed female traffic wardens at main intersections who direct what little traffic there is with military-like precision. Maneuvering atop small metal plates within white-bordered circles in the middle of those intersections, these ladies seem to have a sort of emotionless charm about them. While I have heard that there are also male traffic wardens in some cities, the capital, Pyongyang, has only female ones, typical in appearance as the one pictured at left.
Women have to meet certain physical standards in order to become traffic wardens in North Korea. According to unconfirmed but knowledgeable sources, in addition to being in good health and at least 164cm tall (not consider tall by Western female standards), they must also be no older than 26, unmarried, and apparently, easy on the eyes.
Due to the relatively high status and privileges the female traffic wardens enjoy in North Korea, they are said to be highly desired by the North Korean men, so I assume the average man there would stand little chance with one of these ladies. All of the photos that follow were taken in Pyongyang. The uniforms they wear depend on the time of year.
Quite often, the ladies seem to be directing nonexistent traffic.
Very young-looking traffic warden with a communist propaganda sign in the background.
The uniform she’s wearing is worn during the early spring (as a transition from the
winter uniform to the spring uniform) and in the late fall (as a transition from the
early fall uniform into the winter uniform). The shoulder marks show their ranks.
A white hat with the blue jacket is worn in the late spring and early fall.
A group in the summer uniforms
The winter uniform
Some off-duty wardens repainting traffic lines
Opening to a 60 Minutes segment on North Korea
A big thanks to:
Pyongyang Traffic Girls
About the author
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.
Be the first to comment