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23 Portraits of Women Who Live in North Korea

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For over two years now, Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc has been traveling around the world with a camera in hand and shooting portraits of women in their environment for a project titled “The Atlas of Beauty,” which we featured back in February.

The latest country Noroc traveled to in her journey was the hermit kingdom of North Korea.

“When entering North Korea you step in a different world,” Noroc says. “You already know that you will see huge monuments, statues and communist celebrations but you almost know nothing about North Korean women.”

“That’s why I decided to explore and photograph this subject, something mostly unknown for the rest of the world.”

A woman working in a hotel in Sinuiju
A woman working in a hotel in Sinuiju
In Pyongyang, the capital of the country
In Pyongyang, the capital of the country
On the streets of Wonsan City
On the streets of Wonsan City
One of the wide boulevards of Pyongyang
One of the wide boulevards of Pyongyang

“Women of North Korea are not familiar with global trends but this doesn’t mean that they are not preoccupied by their look,” writes Noroc. “They are, definitely!”

“They have a passion for high heels and usually wear classic outfits, always accompanied by a pin, on the chest, representing one of the country’s leaders.”

Library in Pyongyang
Library in Pyongyang
A singer before her show, in Sinuiju
A singer before her show, in Sinuiju
Bicycles are the most popular vehicle.
Bicycles are the most popular vehicle.
Wonsan, a port city to The Sea of Japan
Wonsan, a port city to The Sea of Japan
She was working in a train.
She was working in a train.

“I tried to explore different environments, from factories or universities to public areas like big boulevards, parks or subway stations to show that beauty is indeed everywhere,” Noroc tells PetaPixel.

“Even though traveling to North Korea is limited to certain areas and conditions, the pleasant surprise was that most of the women were open and they kindly accepted to be photographed.”

Subway station in Pyongyang.
Subway station in Pyongyang.
Fishing is very popular in Wonsan
Fishing is very popular in Wonsan
A waitress in Pyongyang
A waitress in Pyongyang
During celebration or other special occasions women wear traditional outfits
During celebration or other special occasions women wear traditional outfits
Textile factory in Pyongyang
Textile factory in Pyongyang
Umbrellas are popular for sun blocking.
Umbrellas are popular for sun blocking.
During the National Day huge mass dances are organized in big cities.
During the National Day huge mass dances are organized in big cities.
Student in Pyongyang
Student in Pyongyang
A woman working in a hotel in Sinuiju
A woman working in a hotel in Sinuiju
Playing instruments is a popular activity
Playing instruments is a popular activity
In Sinuiju, a city bordering China
In Sinuiju, a city bordering China
People wear pins with the two former great leaders
People wear pins with the two former great leaders
Gates of Koryo Museum in Kaesong
Gates of Koryo Museum in Kaesong

Noroc continues to travel the world and pursue her goal of photographing women in every single country. You can follow along with her journey and photos on the project’s website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Image credits: Photographs by Mihaela Noroc and used with permission

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