For the past 20 years women have not been allowed to ride bikes in North Korea.
Chinese media reported on Friday that the ban has been lifted. In 1996 the restriction was imposed after the daughter of high-ranking official General Oh Geuk Ryeol, was hit by a car and killed in Pyongyang. Upon hearing of the death of Oh Hye Young, a public decree was immediately announced by Kim Jong Il banning women from riding bicycles. While this was a country-wide ban, enforcement in rural areas lost steam despite temporary nationwide crackdowns.
Interestingly enough, under the decree, new bicycle lanes were also created and a bicycle registration system was imposed requiring a number to be displayed on registered bikes.
Women who violated the rule in Pyongyang were fined 1000-5000 North Korean Won, ($8-$40) and repeat offenders risked having their bicycles confiscated.
“This August, approval for women to ride bicycles was handed down by the state.” was the statement from an unnamed source in North Pyongan Province. “People have welcomed it, saying that ‘penalties imposed by the father are being lifted by the son.’”
While this is the smallest of victories in a country that is known for its horrific oppression (to put it mildly), we’ll certainly chalk this up to good news.
Its a good day to ride and reflect and be oh so thankful for the new found freedom of our two-wheeled sisters.
By Sarai Snyder – Boulder, CO