Photo by Stefan Krasowski via Flickr
While most of them were replaced by men or traffic lights several years ago, North Korea’s ‘traffic ladies’ were a bizarre source of pride and fandom in the Hermit Kingdom.
The female traffic cops were introduced in the 1980s to direct traffic in Pyongyang, the country’s capital. Allegedly hand-picked by Kim Jong Un himself, they were forced to retire at either age 26 or when they get married, whichever came first. They were chosen for their looks, height, and loyalty to the country.
And they put on quite a show.
Their replacement was apparently “ordered due to senior leadership concerns about their wellbeing during the heat of summer and frigid cold of winter.”
The ladies – clad in rotating, seasonally-appropriate outfits – were popular and highly desired by North Korean men. Websites dedicated to them were even created – like pyongyangtrafficgirls.com, which featured the “Pyongyang Traffic Girl Of The Month.”
They had different gestures and signals for different situations, such as stopping, starting, turning, or emergencies, and were considered a symbol of order and discipline in North Korea.