The Atlas of Beauty

Looking for a change in life, Romanian photographer Mihaela Noroc quit her job in Romania to work on the "The Atlas of Beauty" project by photographing women in every country of the world. In less than two years, she has visited more than 37 countries, from Ethiopia to Iran, but North Korea turned out to be a very special place.


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

To find women to photograph in North Korea, Noroc traveled to universities, public parks, factories, and subway stations where she would stop “natural” women to photograph them in their own environment. Her subjects range from waitresses to students to factory workers, providing a unique look at women of North Korea.

"Women of North Korea are not familiar with global trends but this doesn't mean that they are not preoccupied by their looks," she says. “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.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to prove that beauty is all around. Noroc also hopes to provide unity through diversity.

See Noroc’s portraits from North Korea, along with her descriptions of them below.

(All photographs by Mihaela Noroc.)