Once Upon a Time in Pyongyang

Three young girls play on the steps of a building. At the turn of the 20th century, Christian missionaries opened girls' schools, granting Korean women access to modern education for the first time. When the Korean Peninsula split in 1945, the North applied communist principles of gender equality, placing a particular emphasis on the participation of women in economic production -- an approach that is still taken today.

Three young girls play on the steps of a building. At the turn of the 20th century, Christian missionaries opened girls' schools, granting Korean women access to modern education for the first time. When the Korean Peninsula split in 1945, the North applied communist principles of gender equality, placing a particular emphasis on the participation of women in economic production -- an approach that is still taken today.

A young girl stands with a baby strapped on her back.

A young girl stands with a baby strapped on her back.

A man rides a donkey in front of a barren landscape and wears a traditional Korean hat called a gat. Typically made from horsehair and bamboo, these hats date from the Choson dynasty before the Japanese occupation and were traditionally worn to signify rank.

A man rides a donkey in front of a barren landscape and wears a traditional Korean hat called a gat. Typically made from horsehair and bamboo, these hats date from the Choson dynasty before the Japanese occupation and were traditionally worn to signify rank.

A street vendor sells goods on a busy Pyongyang sidewalk.

A street vendor sells goods on a busy Pyongyang sidewalk.

A man walks along a Pyongyang sidewalk.

A man walks along a Pyongyang sidewalk.

A view of the Eastern Gate of Pyongyang's original walled city, also known as the Taedong Gate due to its location on the banks of the Taedong river. The present gate -- built in 1635 after its predecessor was burned down during 16th-century Japanese invasions -- is one of the oldest structures in the capital city.

A view of the Eastern Gate of Pyongyang's original walled city, also known as the Taedong Gate due to its location on the banks of the Taedong river. The present gate -- built in 1635 after its predecessor was burned down during 16th-century Japanese invasions -- is one of the oldest structures in the capital city.

The city's population surpassed 200,000 under Japanese colonial rule as it began to industrialize and morph into a provincial capital. It was not until after the Korean War (1950-1953) that Pyongyang was built into the city we know today, with wide boulevards and imposing monuments.

The city's population surpassed 200,000 under Japanese colonial rule as it began to industrialize and morph into a provincial capital. It was not until after the Korean War (1950-1953) that Pyongyang was built into the city we know today, with wide boulevards and imposing monuments.

Once Upon a Time in Pyongyang - By Marya Hannun

Once Upon a Time in Pyongyang - By Marya Hannun

Men gather under the Seven Star Gate, or Chilsong Gate. The name refers to the Big Dipper constellation, which points to the North Star -- signifying the gate's northern orientation. In the early 20th century, parts of the ancient city were razed to make way for electric-car lines, but many of the gates were preserved as historical monuments. The shots that marked the start of land-based battles in the Russo-Japanese War were fired from the top of this gate.

Men gather under the Seven Star Gate, or Chilsong Gate. The name refers to the Big Dipper constellation, which points to the North Star -- signifying the gate's northern orientation. In the early 20th century, parts of the ancient city were razed to make way for electric-car lines, but many of the gates were preserved as historical monuments. The shots that marked the start of land-based battles in the Russo-Japanese War were fired from the top of this gate.

A woman works at a textile loom. Then and now, North Korea's economy has relied heavily on its textile industry, which is responsible for one of the country's primary exports. Like many industries, it has suffered as a result of the country's isolation; the European Community, for example, has strict quotas and bans on the importation of North Korean textiles.

A woman works at a textile loom. Then and now, North Korea's economy has relied heavily on its textile industry, which is responsible for one of the country's primary exports. Like many industries, it has suffered as a result of the country's isolation; the European Community, for example, has strict quotas and bans on the importation of North Korean textiles.

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