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10/05/2015 10:47 am ET | Updated Oct 05, 2015

Photos Of Women In North Korea Show Beauty Crosses All Boundaries

Lovely portraits of women inside the hermit kingdom.

Photographer Mihaela Noroc is on a mission to document diverse beauty by photographing women in every country of the world. Last month, that odyssey took her to North Korea.

"When entering North Korea you step in a different world," Noroc wrote in a description of the series for The WorldPost. "You already know that you will see huge monuments, statues and communist celebrations but you almost know nothing about North Korean women."

Noroc, 30, quit her job in Romania to work on the "The Atlas of Beauty" photography project, which has taken her to dozens of countries, from Ethiopia to Iran.

"Beauty is everywhere, and it’s not a matter of cosmetics, money, race or social status, but more about being yourself," she writes.

Because authorities closely monitor travel around North Korea, Noroc was accompanied by guides and only allowed to visit to certain locations. Even so, she was able to go to four different cities and photograph women in factories, universities, parks and subway stations. She was surprised to find that most women were happy to be photographed.

"Women of North Korea are not familiar with global trends but this doesn't mean that
they are not preoccupied by their looks," she writes. "They have a passion for high heels and usually wear classic outfits, always accompanied by a pin, on the chest, representing the country's former leaders."

"During celebrations and other special occasions they wear traditional colorful outfits," Noroc added. "Even the lady that presents the TV news wears this kind of clothes every evening."

See Noroc's portraits from North Korea, along with her descriptions of them, below. You can also follow her travels on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Mihaela Noroc
    A waitress in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Trains are more used than cars when traveling between cities.
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Gates of Koryo Museum in Kaesong
  • Mihaela Noroc
    People wear pins with the two former great leaders
  • Mihaela Noroc
    1st of May stadium is the biggest in the world
  • Mihaela Noroc
    One of the big squares of Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    In Sinuiju, a city bordering China
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Playing instruments is a popular activity
  • Mihaela Noroc
    She was working in a hotel in Sinuiju
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Student in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    During the National Day huge mass dances are organized in big cities.
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Umbrellas are popular for sun blocking.
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Textile factory in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Textile factory in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    During celebrations or other special occasions women wear traditional outfits
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Fishing is very popular in Wonsan
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Subway station in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    She was working in a train
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Wonsan, a port city to The Sea of Japan
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Bicycles are the most popular vehicle.
  • Mihaela Noroc
    The landscape of North Korea is dominated by mountains.
  • Mihaela Noroc
    A singer before her show, in Sinuiju
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Library in Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    One of the wide boulevards of Pyongyang
  • Mihaela Noroc
    Uniforms are very common in North Korea
  • Mihaela Noroc
    On the streets of Wonsan City
  • Mihaela Noroc
    In Pyongyang, the capital of the country
  • Mihaela Noroc
    She was working in a hotel in Sinuiju

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misidentified North Korea's former leaders. 

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