Kim Jong-un’s Head-Turning Traffic Ladies

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Hired purely for their looks, they must be single and not older than 26.

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Snapping their heads from side to side, marching into the roads in close-fitting blue uniforms and black heels, the ‘traffic ladies’ who marshal vehicles at the intersections of Pyongyang are an emblematic image of the North Korean capital.

Officially known as traffic security officers but universally referred to as traffic ladies, they are hired purely for their looks in a society that remains traditionalist in many respects.

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They must leave the role if they marry, and have a finite shelf-life, with compulsory retirement looming at just 26.

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The 300-odd ladies are unique to Pyongyang, which North Korean authorities are always keen to present in the best possible light despite their nuclear-armed country’s impoverished status, and ensure a steady supply of photogenic young women who are the favourite subject of visiting tourists and journalists.