A woman carrying a baby looks for fallen corn in a harvested field. Photographed in South Hwanghae Province in October, 2008 by Shim Uicheon (ASIAPRESS)

◆Women don’t marry men from farms

I often ask this question when I have the opportunity to interview a women from North Korea.

--Which is better? If you are married to a nice, diligent, handsome farmer or to a laborer from the city with a bad personality and poor appearance?

Though I have asked dozens of women this question, they have all answered the same- that they would prefer the man from the city. Though the answer may be surprising, their reasoning is clear.

”If you marry a farmer, it means you will become a farmer too. You will have to work until you die with your face sunburned and manage a meager living. No woman goes to a farm voluntarily. If you do not like the city man, you can divorce and live alone by supporting yourself."

Is not there a chance for rural women to get to the city? I asked our reporting partner living in North Korea.

"It is possible to marry a worker and become a 'city resident' but those cases are very rare. Men too try to avoid marrying the daughters of poor farmers." (Yoo Min-tae)

A rural woman transports harvested beans in a cart. Photographed in a rural area outside Pyongyang in October, 2008 by Jang Jung-gil (ASIAPRESS)

Next page: During the farming season, women from the city are mobilized to work...

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