The photograph below was taken in Dubai Mall, ostensibly the largest mall in the world. The subject was 30 m from me and what caught my eye was the shoes she was wearing under the head-to—toe garment referred to as Abaya. When I showed it to my expat host, he said that I should be careful and not publicise this photo since, ‘Here, we are not free to do things as you would do in the West’. This seemed rather odd. I have travelled extensively and I think I am culturally sensitive. Has any one else among the rumour-mongers experienced this real or perceived Gestapo mentality when it came to otherwise innocuous photographs. I can understand one’s handlers in Pyongyang not allowing you to point your camera in a particular direction but when no apparent reason exists, a ‘police state’ mentality governing photography would be interesting.
Excellent photo, well done. However, even though it's too late now, I would have paid very careful attention to your host if you ever planned on visiting that country again. I'm not certain I would do so.
You may believe yourself culturally sensitive, and in the western sense you may very well be, but in this case I think you stepped on a geopolitical landmine. You've just posted a photo that completely skewers one of the grand perceptions that middle eastern Islam has presented to the west - that the religious requirements that we in the west find so odd are pervasive throughout society, and that their womenfolk fully support them.
Those shoes are either a remarkable protest against that particular requirement of her religion, or a demonstration that those requirements are for public consumption only. Neither plays well amongst the hard line religious folks who run those countries and who have an unpleasant habit of executing people who they believe have embarrassed them or disrespected their religion. I think you just did both.
So yes, there really is something wrong with the photo, if you plan on ever returning to that part of the world.
As for the North Korea comparison, at least they're consistent with the western perspective. They don't want photos showing how destitute their country is (politically embarrassing), or what their military is doing (could work against them in the next war, which they expect any moment). Much easier to understand than religious thinking.