Man at His Best

Pyongyang's Traffic Security Officers Are Hotties. By Order.

They're selected based on looks and physique and retire aged 26

BY Editors | Jun 20, 2017 | Culture

Image by Ed Jones / AFP

They call them traffic ladies, but their official handle is "traffic security officer". One of the job prerequisites is their looks.

And the traffic security officer must leave her role if she marries, and retire by age 26.


"Normally, the women in our country marry at the age of 26 or 27", explains a senior officer of the ministry of public security, who does not want to be named. "Because the role is tough and difficult, they can only do the job when they are single."

No age limit applies to their roughly 400 male counterparts -- who tend to be stationed at roundabouts.

The 300-odd ladies are unique to Pyongyang. But what are they for, really? 

"They are representing the capital city," explains the officer. "That's why they are selected based on their appearance and physique."

In other words, they're eye candy, for you to forget about the occasional nuclear missile test, assassination and famine. 

For the love of the great leader

Traffic ladies were introduced in the 1980s, when cars were a rarity on the streets of Pyongyang and remained so for decades. The sight of them directing -- with precision and energy -- non-existent cars on wide but deserted boulevards was surreal.

As part of North Korea's security forces they hold officer ranks. Senior Captain Ri Myong-Sim, 24, is a seven-year veteran who cuts an imposing presence in her high-peaked cap and white gloves.

"I have to carry out each and every action with discipline and spirit," she says. Her "tough training" involved "exhausting repetition" of the moves, she tells us.

"But every time I felt that, the thing that kept me going and drove me was the thought that our leader, who cares for only the happiness of our people all year long, was watching us work," she says, standing ramrod-straight at the Changjon crossroads in central Pyongyang.

"So I could practise throughout the night and keep going on the next day without feeling tired at all."

An obelisk down the road proclaims: "The Great President Kim Il-Sung and the Great Leader Kim Jong-Il will always be with us."

Traffic in the capital has visibly increased in recent years as authorities quietly liberalise the economy. This has led to growth despite United Nations sanctions imposed over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes. However, the North keeps most statistics secret and precise figures are not available.

Traffic lights have been introduced at most intersections, but the ladies -- who say they work an hour on, an hour off, although their feet can still get sore -- have no fear of their blue uniforms being replaced by red, amber and green. 

The lights "help the humans do their jobs more easily," says Ri.

Traffic security officers are given a fashionable ensemble that includes thick cotton coats for winter -- when their breaths condense instantly in the bitter cold -- flashing orange halters for night work, and sunscreen.

"The great leader shows them endless care and love," the ministry officer says. "That's why they do their best in their efforts, to repay the great love of the great presidents and dear Respected Marshal Kim Jong-Un."

With retirement ahead Senior Captain Ri is taking a training course to become a teacher.

But she lets the facade of discipline slip when asked if the focus was annoying.

"We are so concentrated on doing our jobs we rarely notice the attention," she giggles.

Source: AFP Relaxnews