NK News is reporting that the trafficgirls are being retired. http://nknews.org/2010/09/exclusive-pyongyang-traffic-girls-retired/
24 September 2010
According to a reliable source in Pyongyang, the famous traffic girls of North Korea’s capital city have for the most part lost their jobs. Instead, modern low voltage LED based traffic lights have been installed throughout town to control traffic.
The girls were allegedly laid off earlier in the year, however some have been retained in case of long-term power shortages and some (perhaps now working as police due to the white uniform) are manually phasing lights in busy areas, such as near the Koryo hotel. See the following video for an example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcPY0q9Ihbg
Drivers of Pyongyang are currently learning about the new light sequencing system and as such according to our NKnews.org source, some delays were experienced driving through Pyongyang due to improper light phasing (i.e lights being stuck on red for long periods).
The lights are functional throughout the day and until about 11pm each night. Street lights are also now illuminated on busy streets until around the same time.
Ray Cunningham aka zaruka was in North Korea last month, and saw this situation firsthand.
Here's what he told me -
"The damn traffic lights are on.
The women are sidelined to a great extent.
The umbrellas are still up and a few intersections are working as usual – very few.
We cannot conclude that the era is over – but they are working less. One reason has been heat. They are not on duty at the hottest part of the day but from what I saw they are not on duty in most every intersection but along the sides watching."
This from Rays Flickr page:Sad Situation
An umbrella without a traffic girl is a very sad thing to see.
From Rays comments on Flickr:
"The traffic lights are on and the traffic girls are sidelined in many intersections. This is a sad state of affairs. They stand on the roadside while the traffic lights work. They are not giving directions. They may be doing other traffic duty but I watched one for about 20 minutes and she just paced watching. I certainly do not want this to be permanent."
Well, we knew this day might come. But it's still to early to panic. Changes don't happen overnight, and there is still reason to believe that the traffic ladies will be around for a while.
For one thing, there are too many intersections for traffic lights to be installed in all at them at once. The busiest ones will get priority for the lights, and some intersections currently staffed by traffic women may not get lights at all.
And mostly, the DPRK regime knows that their traffic girls have become a popular icon of North Korea and an admired tourist attraction, something that they probably would be hesitant to do away with completely. They make souvenir trafficgirl dolls, for pete's sake.
So just as there are traffic women around the world currently staffing intersections in cities like Dalian China
, Amman Jordan, Rome Italy , or New Delhi India, The Pyongyang Traffic Ladies will undoubtedly remain directing traffic in one way or another for the foreseeable future.