North Korean Lady Soldiers Wear 4-Inch Heels

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Photo: Getty Images

As an increasingly bellicose North Korea rattles its saber, an unusual sighting in North Korean border town Sinuiju: Female soldiers in platform heels, patrolling by the banks of the Yalu River.

Among the many mysteries associated with North Korea's military, "Why are they wearing high heels?" is perhaps the least important of all. But it's still so mysterious: How much time do these women spend marching in heels? Do they have special techniques for dealing with blisters? Are their platform heels standard-issue? (The woman in the middle appears to be wearing a different style than the other two.) The products of border bribes? What about the scrunchies on their ponytails?

Maybe the female soldiers wear heels so they can be as tall as the men? Here's a male North Korean soldier's footwear:

The Cut's resident high-heel expert Veronica Gledhill notes that two of the above-photographed soldiers have wisely chosen heels with platforms under the toes. The platform allows them to add inches while preserving a relatively low pitch—that is, the angle of the shoe bed. By pairing an estimated four-inch heel with a one-inch platform, the soldier on the far right achieves four inches of height with a pitch comparable to that of a three-inch shoe.

Jobs that require women to perform physical feats in high heels: stripper, model, North Korean soldier, dancer in music videos, Beyoncé.