North Korean women live in an isolated country that has eccentric rulers and weird rules. No wonder the females’ life abounds with challenges that might shock you.
10. Korean women aren’t permitted to stand out from the crowd
Beauty is the last thing on a decent North Korean woman’s mind, since local females’ looks are regulated by the government. Brightly colored attire is prohibited by law. Any failure to comply with the provisions of a dress code may result in violators’ punishment, even down to sending them to labor camps.
Wearing high heels or stilettos, bright accessories and branded clothing as well as walking around with bare shoulders or a naked belly are prohibited in North Korea.
The only pretty outfit that local women are permitted to put on is a traditional costume called Choson-ot, which is a floor-length sundress with manual embroidery. The North Korean women are only allowed to wear it on special occasions, for example, on great leaders’ birthdays.
However, many families can’t afford even this kind of clothing. That’s why a groom usually gives his bride a choson-ot as a present before the wedding ceremony.
Modern Korean women normally wear a three-piece suit with a skirt. Women were forbidden to put on trousers only 20 years ago. Nevertheless, the ban was lifted.
Neutral and pastel shades dominate in Korean females’ wardrobes. Moreover, they put a badge on their clothes depicting the former great leaders of their country.
9. They don’t have enough time to take care of themselves
North Korean woman’s typical morning routine starts at 6 a.m. After breakfast, composed of a couple of tablespoons of maize gruel and unsweetened yogurt, they hastily get ready for work. They don’t have time to stand in front of a mirror and get all dressed up.
Firstly, because it’s still dark in the morning, and besides, the women have no warm water at this hour of the day. (They only have access to electricity and hot water at fixed times.) Secondly, there are serious problems with public transportation even in the capital city, so it takes hours to commute to work.
Their workday starts at 8 a.m., but they arrive at their workplace at 7:30 in order to read the latest news from state-controlled press and get instructed. At the end of the workday, they have to listen to lectures praising the former and current rulers of the country and its ideology.
By the way, Sunday is the only rest day of the week. Moreover, there are no public holidays in North Korea except for the great leaders’ birthdays.
8. North Korean women generally earn more than men
It’s interesting that women are the main breadwinners in North Korean families. They are more likely to get higher-paid white-collar jobs than men in this country. Males, for their part, normally pursue careers as military personnel. Their job is considered prestigious, but their wages leaves much to be desired.
In addition, North Korean women bear the primary responsibility for household tasks.
7. They do mandatory military service
It’s commonly believed that military service is strictly a man’s job. However, North Korean women are obliged to do their duty for the fatherland. Every female high school graduate has to acquire military skills during 7 years.
Female military personnel live in Spartan conditions. As a rule, they are malnourished. One meal consists of three table spoons of rice. They don’t get enough sleep and train hard, thereby being worn out by the end of a day.
Owing to constant stress and starvation, many women stop getting their period. Moreover, due to a lack of sanitary pads, women use them multiple times. In addition, they don’t often take a shower or go to the bathroom.
The worst part is that they have a cold shower – they are just being hosed down with water that is pumped from the nearest river. Very often, frogs and snakes pour out of a hose together with icy water.
While serving in the army, women are being humiliated. They are led to believe that females are silly, useless and that they are not as strong as men are. Moreover, the females are forced to face harassment and violence. The higher-ranking servicemen don’t miss an opportunity to coerce a woman into having sex.
For example, an officer can call a female soldier into his office and, under the pretext of a bodily examination, take sexual advantage of her.
6. They only get married upon reaching appropriate age
North Koreans don’t enter into early marriage. When a girl turns 25 and her fiancée is 27, they can get married. The wedding ceremony is carried out in accordance with old traditions and it’s not particularly pompous or lavish.
On the wedding day, newly-weds dress up and go to mayor’s office with a view to register their marriage. The next thing to do is lay flowers at the bronze Kim Il Sung’s monument to pay tribute to the first leader of North Korea who ruled the country after the end of the WWII. After that, they go to the park to take pictures, and then, have a humble wedding ceremony.
By the way, married women are supposed to wear shorter hairstyles than that of unmarried women, and they are allowed to make a choice between just a few options proposed.
5. Local women break the law to support the family
North Korea is a country with entrenched patriarchal attitudes. Local Asian women must obey their husbands’ will unquestioningly. Even if he becomes incapacitated and the government is not able to support his family, it’s a wife’s responsibility to not let him starve to death.
That’s how many women start to do all sorts of jobs to maintain the family. Most often, they begin to sell prohibited foreign goods, by paying bribes to governmental officials so that they turn a blind eye to the violation of the law. Partly for this reason, 80-90% of businesses in North Korea are illegal.
Another way to earn some money, being in a difficult financial situation, is to smuggle foreign products.
Nevertheless, in the event that the females are caught smuggling, border guards usually start to fondle their breasts and private parts, under the pretext of checking for the presence of other prohibited goods. If that happens, the officials can suggest that the women consider avoiding punishment through sharing a bed with them.
In the worst case, the officials can grab these females by their hair and even punch them in the face no matter how old they are.
4. Women who put up with violence enjoy respect
North Korean women who suffer violence by men aren’t viewed as victims. It’s generally assumed that a woman’s bigmouth is a real reason why a man beats her. Thus, society welcomes the fact that men literally drum wisdom into women’s heads.
That’s why local men get handsy without a moment’s hesitation.
The concept of sexual harassment and assault doesn’t exist in North Korea. This is the reason why Korean women tolerate violence and keep quiet about what happens to them.
Some time after the act of rape, a raped girl is being showered with praise for her mature and intelligent reaction to what has happened. The fact that she didn’t give rise to discussion of her assault makes her a decent person in the public eye.
3. Parents give their daughters birth control devices
Using condoms is prohibited in North Korea, but they still can be purchased in shops. Smuggled condoms are being imported from China. Many women use intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy.
When a girl graduates from high school and gets drafted into the army where she is likely to suffer from sexual assault, her parents give her an intrauterine device.
2. They use clandestine beauty services and one of the best beauty products in the world
Plastic surgery is not allowed in North Korea. However, many women make use of clandestine services in order to look younger and more attractive.
North Korean women prefer to put on a simple makeup. Local females consider fair skin and big eyes the ideal of beauty. (This is what they have in common with Japanese women.) They normally use mascara and transparent lipstick.
You’ll be surprise to hear that North Korea produces high-quality beauty products, which is not inferior to those produced in the West. Specialists believe that Kim John Un brought some samples of Western cosmetics to North Korea and ordered scientists to replicate them.
1. Koreans are slender because their grandparents were starving
North Korea has suffered from famine more than once. That’s why local women have probably inherited their tendency to slenderness from their grandparents. Their physique is similar to that of Chinese women.
North Korean women’s daily ration of food also contributes to their slim body shape. It mainly comprises rice and fish. As a result, there are very few obese women.
As you can see, North Korea being isolated facilitates local women’s security against COVID-19 infection. But the advantages of this country end there, since North Korean women go through a lot in their life. It was to be hoped that things would change there one day.