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 century, Christian missionaries opened girls' schools, granting Korean women access to modern education for the first time.

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.

An American Spy in Pyongyang Reports on the Overthrow of Kim Jong-un: My Task: Bring NK's Nationalized Automaker, Donkey Motors, Into 2017

A man walks along a Pyongyang sidewalk.

Korea, Pyongyang early 20 C For a brief period in the early century, after the 1910 fall of the original

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.

Pyongyang circa :: Eastern Gate first built in century, rebuilt 1635 after Japanese invasions. Known as the Taedong Gate on the banks of the Taedong River.

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, North Korea (pre - 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.

Pyongyang circa :: Men gather under the Seven Star Gate, or Chilsong Gate, which refers to the Big Dipper and points to the North Star, signifying the gate's northern orientation.

A man dines on a traditional Korean meal, composed of small dishes and rice. Prior to the Japanese occupation, the peninsula was divided into administrative provinces that largely retained regional cuisines. Today, the food around Pyongyang consists of grains and meat dishes designed for enduring the country's notoriously harsh winters. Food shortages are common in the Hermit Kingdom due to mismanagement and a lack of arable land.

Pyongyang ca Men at a significant meal. Note non-eating people behind.

Over 80 percent of the country is covered in mountains, which play a prominent role in North Korea's past and present political mythology. The country's isolation and lack of development have left many of these peaks largely unexplored, prompting Lonely Planet to extol the untouched beauty of the North's "vast tracts of virgin forest, abundant wildlife, lonely granite crags, fresh springs, gushing streams and dramatic waterfalls."

Pyongyang ca A small gathering of people gather at a striking natural formation.

A man catches fish on a frozen river. Trout soup from the Taedong river is a typical Pyongyang dish, and ice fishing from frozen rivers during Korea's cold winter remains popular today. South Korea even holds an annual ice-fishing festival.

Pyongyang ca Ice fishing on the Taedong river. Note his topknot, which along with wide sleeves were banned during the Kabo Reforms of

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