What we know about the Pyongyang Traffic Girls
Here is some basic information about our traffic ladies, pieced together from a variety of different websites. It may not be either all-inclusive or exact, and there is probably room for error - the info comes from a small number of sources, and some specifics may have changed over time. But unless or untill we get to interview a PTG herself, this is what we can assume to know to date. Any more info would be welcome, and will be added to this post as it becomes available.
The intersections staffed by the traffic police are called 'posts'.
There are slightly more than 50 posts in Pyongyang.
Each post is assigned six traffic controllers, with the post staffed from 7:00AM to 10:00 PM.
The post's six traffic police are split into 2 groups which rotate duty.
Each group shift is 2-3 hours. A traffic controller is on duty for 30 minutes at a time, relieved every 30 minutes.
They work 6 days a week, with Sundays off. They also may have to work holidays.
The basic rules are:
If traffic officer is facing you or has back to you, stop do not proceed - cross traffic has right-of-way.
When traffic officer raises baton, a right-of-way change is imminent.
Baton held out indicates a turn through intersection is permitted.
Requirements to be a Pyongyang Traffic Girl:
- between the ages of 16 - 26
- at least 1.65 meters (5'4") tall
- high school graduate
- 2 way radio
- rain poncho
- signal flags
- remote controller (for traffic lights)
- reflective vest
- lighted baton
Traffic Control Podiums
Introduced in 2009, some intersections are equipped with traffic control podiums.
- umbrella for shade and rain
- heated pad in base for keeping feet warm
- light for illumination of traffic controller
- reflective paint for visibility
The Traffic Ladies uniforms will vary depending on the time of year:
Winter Season - From November 16th until March 15th
Blue trousers, blue jacket with fur, fur hat, black boots
Spring Season - From March 16th until May 31st
Blue skirt, blue jacket, blue cap in March and April, and white cap in May. Black boots from March 16th until April 15th
Summer Season - From June 1st until September 30th
Blue skirt, white jacket, white cap
Autumn Season - From October 1st until November 15th
Blue skirt, blue jacket coat, blue cap
White boots are worn when it is raining.
They may also wear a blue coat during spring and fall if the weather turns colder.
Besides directing traffic, the traffic ladies are also given authority for enforcing traffic rules and regulations, and for pedestrian safety. Some posts are equipped with auto repair toolkits and pedestrian safety information.
PTGs enjoy elevated status in the DPRK, and they also recieve better pay and priveleges than the average citizen. It is reported that the government provides them 300 grams more food per day than the average citizens 500 grams. Their monthly pay is around 3,500 North Korean Won, which roughly translates to 20 euros - about $30 US dollars. Apparently this is considered good pay because the government provides them with free housing and medical/health care.
Many inside sources report that the PTGs are highly desired by the DPRK's male population because of their beauty and high status, and competition for their affection is said to be fierce.
After their service expires, they are given preference for post-graduate studies and/or career selection - some continue to work in the police profession.
Why does the DPRK need to use Traffic Women instead of traffic lights? According to the North Korean guides, it's the United States' fault! "The United States prevented North Korea from developing its nuclear energy program, the country suffered from a chronic shortfall of electricity. Therefore, the Controllers act as human traffic lights, since the use of similar electricity would be a waste.
It is also been said that Pyongyang mainly uses female traffic controllers on the theory that the male drivers(No women are allowed to drive in Pyongyang - they're considered a high accident risk) will pay more attention to a beautiful woman.
It's clear that the North Korean government has come to see their Pyongyang Traffic Women as a positive image of their country that they are glad to promote - they are aware that the traffic ladies are popular with tourists, although it's reported that they are a bit mystified as to why.
Ranks of the Pyongyang Traffic Girls
Armband of the Pyongyang traffic police - "traffic security member"
On the uniform, the shoulder board indicates the rank of the wearer.
Here is an order list as to Pyongyang Traffic Girl rank,
with probable North Korean pronunciation and general Western ranking equivalent name:
1. Plain shoulder board with 2 stripes = Chungŭp-pyŏngsa = Corporal
2. Plain shoulder board with 3 stripes = Sanggŭp-pyŏngsa = Sergeant
3. Shoulder board with 2 gold bars and 1 star = Sowi = Junior Lieutenant
4. Shoulder board with 2 gold bars and 2 stars = Jungwi = Lieutenant
5. Shoulder board with 2 gold bars and 3 stars = Daewi = Captain
More discussion on the above Traffic Girl ranks can be found here:http://www.pyongyangtrafficgirls.com/t237-ranks-of-the-traffic-girls#1556
=========================================================Coordinates of known Pyongyang traffic posts
Here are some geographic coordinates of Pyongyang traffic circles that are visible by satellite. Not all posts are visible - some are hidden by shadow, and some posts may not have circles. As more become known they can be added to this list.
I have listed them in latitudal order, and included the traffic girl post(TGP) number shown on the Google Earth map
created by Pyongyang_Sam
Google Earth Location File
39°3'56.90"N 125°45'20.88"E ---- TGP 16
39°3'29.57"N 125°45'13.36"E ---- TGP 14
39°3'9.30"N 125°43'40.77"E ---- TGP 23
39°3'5.41"N 125°45'17.85"E ---- TGP 13
39°2'59.38"N 125°44'18.09"E ---- TGP 22
39°2'57.02"N 125°44'24.78"E ---- TGP 15
39°2'42.74"N 125°44'11.02"E ---- TGP 17
39°2'32.16"N 125°44'54.72"E ---- TGP 27
39°2'20.54"N 125°44'38.31"E ---- TGP 8
39°2'14.38"N 125°43'31.57"E ---- TGP 18
39°2'10.30"N 125°44'48.31"E ---- TGP 9
39°1'57.89"N 125°44'7.00"E ---- TGP 24
39°1'55.61"N 125°46'32.85"E ---- TGP 19
39°1'49.00"N 125°43'54.31"E ---- TGP 28
39°1'34.00"N 125°45'19.58"E ---- TGP 12
39°1'26.87"N 125°46'0.27"E ---- TGP 293
9°1'24.98"N 125°44'17.84"E ---- TGP 2
39°1'22.96"N 125°46'23.27"E ---- TGP 20
39°1'17.76"N 125°45'14.38"E ---- TGP 11
39°1'11.36"N 125°44'4.39"E ---- TGP 1
39°0'56.99"N 125°45'8.39"E ---- TGP 10
39°0'46.55"N 125°45'9.86"E ---- TGP 5
39°0'46.45"N 125°45'5.22"E ---- TGP 6
39°0'45.95"N 125°44'57.96"E ---- TGP 7
39°0'44.43"N 125°44'16.14"E ---- TGP 4
39°0'36.31"N 125°46'9.75"E ---- TGP 21
39°0'33.12"N 125°44'14.24"E ---- TGP 3
39°0'31.82"N 125°44'49.13"E ---- TGP 26
39°0'27.01"N 125°43'27.19"E ---- TGP 25
38°59'22.65"N 125°45'43.32"E ---- TGP 30
If you have Google Earth downloaded on your computer, here is where you can download a KMZ file showing the Traffic Post locations:Google Docs KMZ file
Pyongyang Traffic Girls in Google Maps:http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&cd=1&ei=XhdsS9ijKpCeMtqP0dUE&vps=1&jsv=202c&sll=39.02372,125.745459&sspn=0.019532,0.019936&ie=UTF8&q=http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/%3Fg%3D871248%40N21%26lang%3Den-us%26format%3Drss_200&ftid=86A1730F19619852&ved=0CCIQmwU&sa=X * * * * UPDATE 10/2011 * * * *
Some of the above information on the Pyongyang Traffic Girls may currently be out of date, but will remain posted here for future reference.
Over the past year the traffic girl's duties have been modified due to the increased use of traffic lights in Pyongyang.
Reports are that the traffic girls remain, but now are assigned to manually control the lights according to traffic flow, and/or they stand on the curb waiting to direct traffic themselves in case the electricity to the traffic lights go out.
The umbrella platforms that were introduced with much fanfare in 2009 are now apparently gone.
We will keep you updated.
( also here
( also here
LAST UPDATED August 2012