Posts : 550
Join date : 2008-03-30
|Subject: Traffic Ladies - from a blog Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:31 pm|| |
Instead of traffic lights, there are traffic ladies. There are some intersections with defunct traffic lights. Since hydroelectricity is unreliable and there are rolling blackouts, the traffic lights cannot be used. Thus, the traffic ladies become the traffic lights.
Apparently the traffic ladies must be of a certain height in order to see all the traffic and pedestrians. She must also be ‘beautiful’, by whose standards I do not know. She must also be highly intelligent since her job requires a high level of concentration and precise movements. She is, after all, responsible for the lives of Pyongyang drivers and for the smooth flowing movement of the city. Her job is done in hourly shifts, so the change of guard happens each hour.
The traffic ladies stand in the middle of each intersection within a circle demarcation on the concrete painted white. They are dressed in a militaristic uniform like everyone else in DPRK. The uniform is in a cerulean blue colour with white stripes. The uniform consists of a short skirt, sharp jacket with big metal buttons, a soldier-like hat, white gloves, black shoes, sunglasses, and a long rod. The rod indicates which way the traffic must move or stop. The rod lights up in a bright red when it gets dark. The traffic ladies stand at guard in the centre of the intersections and perform their traffic movements with military precision. They are so precise that they almost resemble robots. My friend Sean (the young economist from Australia) would always try to get the traffic ladies to covertly wave to him. He managed to break the concentration of about five or six of them, and they waved back, while some others smiled at him. He was proud of himself.
My first sight of a traffic lady was on our rainy first night in DPRK. Once we entered Pyongyang, we drove through a large intersection. The rain was coming down hard and it was dark, but the flashing red-lighted rod gave her away. As we drove past her, we could make out some of her uniform underneath a see-through rain-jacket that covered her entire body. We watched her precise movements, waving the rod, graceful even in the clunky rain-jacket, guiding the non-existent traffic. It was interesting to see, I had thought these traffic ladies were Communist myths.