Discuss as:

Women allowed on bicycles as N. Korea turns wheels of change

In perhaps another sign that North Korean society is changing, Chinese media reported Friday that women are being allowed to ride bicycles for the first time for years.

Cycling for women was banned in 1996 because the activity wasn't regarded as sufficiently feminine by the male-dominated North Korean regime.

The apparent relaxation came as Kim Jung Un's powerful uncle, Chang Song-Taek, was in Beijing signing new deals to open up special enterprise zones on the Chinese border with North Korea.

Such zones already exist but haven't been developed to any great scale. The Chinese have long been trying to convince the North Koreans to reform their stagnant state controlled economy in the same way China did 20 years ago.

Read the full article at ITV News

Chang’s visit may also pave the way for Kim Jung Un's first official trip to the Chinese capital.

There has been a series of recent changes within North Korea: Kim sacked his army chief, Kim's uncle signed the economic deal with China, there are more cars and advertising on Pyongyang's streets, the regime promised the people their livelihoods would improve and workers will soon be allowed to officially work in factories in China and send money home.

It is not clear why the female bicycle ban was reversed, but it does appear as though the wheels of change in North Korea are turning.

ITV News is the U.K. partner of NBC News.

More world stories from NBC News:

Follow World News from NBCNews.com on Twitter and Facebook