Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un marks International Women's Day by passing on cosmetics to air force pilots' wives.Getty Images

In a surprise gesture in support of the International Women's Day, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un distributed cosmetics and food as gifts for the wives of air force pilots.

Jong-un passed on the gifts while visiting an air force unit to inspect a new power station.

According to local media reports, Jong-un didn't meet the women in person, however, he requested the commanding officers to pass on the gifts.

He also posed for photos with the pilots and reminded them of the slogan: "We wait only for the Party's order for missions!"

In another surprise gesture, Jong-un spoke in support of green energy, stressing the importance of developing wind, solar and geothermal energy as the country battles with daily electricity outages.

Meanwhile, North Korea's state-controlled news daily featured several articles in celebration of North Korean women with one article crediting Jong-un's,"unconditional love [and] respect of women, which serves as the foundation of their lives of happiness founded on gender equality."

"In North Korea, we let women lead hopeful lives as flowers of the nation," read the article, reported UPI.

In contrast, a panel of North Korean women in Seoul reflected on a very different image of women's lives in North Korea.

One of the North Korean female panellists said, women employed in North Korean military units are very commonly subjected to requests of sexual favours and forced into abortions.

Another panellist, Ahn Hye-kyung, said North Korean women never receive sex education and hence do not know how to manage unexpected pregnancies.