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  • » 01/17/2013, 00.00


    Like in Muslim countries, N Korea bars women from riding bicycles

    Joseph Yun Li-sun

    Women are barred from cycling in many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. Now North Korea's Stalinist regime is doing the same, claiming that having women ride bicycles is "against Socialist morals". Offenders are liable to fines and could see their vehicle seized. Ordinary North Koreans are incensed. "Bicycles are essential," one said.

    Seoul (AsiaNews) - Like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Indonesia's Aceh province, North Korea has decided to bar women from riding bicycles. This is not new. In the 1990s, Communist authorities had introduced a similar ban, claiming that women on bicycles went against "Socialist morals". Last year however, the ban was lifted as a token of new leader Kim Jong-un "reformist" spirit.

    A source from Hoiryeong in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK today that "The use of bicycles by women was officially allowed last year, but was prohibited again on the 10th [of January]. There have been local People's Safety officers patrolling since the day after that."

    Under the country's young dictator Kim Jong-un, the third son of the late 'dear leader', the authorities have decided not only to stop "women using bicycles, but also banned them from riding on the backs of bicycles and placed a weight limit on the luggage that can be placed on them," the source explained.

    "Before the ban was lifted last year, if a woman was caught riding a bicycle she was fined just a bit of money, no more than 5,000 won. But now they are confiscating the bicycle instead, and this has been causing a bit of upset."

    If the ban is widespread and lasts any length of time, it will have a deleterious effect on the functioning of North Korea's markets. Bicycles have been a critical factor in helping to spread commerce as a means of survival.

    Indeed, North Korea's economy largely survives on barter. Rural markets are crucial for exchange. "Bicycles are essential in North Korea," the source explained. North Koreans "have no cars, motorcycles or other means of transportation. Bicycles are very useful; women can not only go to and from the markets on them, they can also give their children lifts and carry as much as 50".

    Kim Jong-il imposed the ban, ostensibly because the practice of women riding bicycles was contrary to the country's Stalinist ideology and "social morals.

    In fact, some experts believe the second Kim banned the use of bicycles in the 1990s after the daughter of a high-ranking official was killed in a traffic accident in Pyongyang.

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    See also

    28/11/2014 NORTH KOREA
    Pyongyang, the three women behind Kim Jong-un’s throne
    With the appointment of his younger sister to the leadership of the Workers' Party, the North Korean dictator finds himself at the center of a circle of women who advise and guide him: two sisters and his wife, increasingly influential in the regime’s political and economic decisions.

    24/03/2017 14:35:00 NORTH KOREA
    Women and children are the main victims of North Korea’s humanitarian emergency

    About 27.9 per cent of North Korean children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition, 4 per cent from acute malnutrition. About 23.3 per cent of women in reproductive age are also malnourished. About 31.2 per cent of pregnant women are anemic and 5 per cent of children are born underweight. Malnutrition is aggravated by poor health care and the lack of running water, sanitation and hygiene services. “The undernourishment of the people of North Korea is a very serious situation,” expert tells AsiaNews. “A whole generation has stunted growth.”

    15/09/2017 13:21:00 KOREA
    Seoul to send humanitarian aid to the North despite provocations

    Aid worth US$ 8 million includes cereals and vaccine for children and pregnant women. Vulnerable people are most affected by sanctions. About 70 per cent of North Korea’s population is malnourished.

    11/08/2005 SOUTH KOREA
    Seven South Korean men in ten willing to marry North Korean women
    Women being more 'obedient' to their husbands is one of the reasons.

    04/07/2007 NORTH KOREA
    Kim Jong-il tells parties to follow through on nuclear pledges
    ‘Dear leader’ uses conciliatory comments in his meeting with Chinese foreign minister. He mentions easing of tensions on the peninsula and calls for following through on pledges with regard to February agreement on supplying fuel to North Korea. IAIE plans a visit to Yongbyon.

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