North Korea is under one of the tightest military regimes in the world, and the government controls virtually all aspects of life. Materials about North Korea, particularly materials which will be released to the West, are heavily scrutinized, and for the most part, the only images we've ever had of the place was whatever they decided to present... until now.
While most tourists are only ever shown Pyongyang, the political capital built largely just to give foreigners a misleading impression of the country's state of affairs. One photographer, however, opted for the longest tour available, and took some illegal photos along the way.
These photos show a side of North Korea they don't want outsiders to see, and the photographer had his photos searched through for hours when he left. Many pictures were deleted, but he'd made secret backups which he smuggled out.
1. Monuments and propaganda are everywhere.
2. National Day celebrations include mass dancing to commemorate the founding of the country.
3. Pyongyang has a metro system that's crucial to the city, and it opened al stops to tourists in 2014.
4. Gardens are well-kept by hordes of laborers - one of the perks of having a labor force that's cheap and plentiful.
5. There's a "Museum of United States War Atrocities" in Sinchon, where north Koreans were murdered en masse by American soldiers.
6. The country's airline, Air Kyoro, is the world's only one-star airline and has been banned from flying to the E.U. due to safety standards.
7. Dog meat soup shops abound in the capital, and the government even regulates the prices of dog meat. Sometimes, you can even find a dog tooth in your stew.
8. On top of Mt. Taesong is The Revolutionary Martyrs’ Cemetery, a memorial to soldiers who died fighting against Japanese rule.
9. The perfectly manicured lawns of the International Friendship Exhibition.
10. The southern gateway to Pyongyang features the Arch of Reunification, just across from a heavily monitored six-lane highway leading to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).
11. Female traffic cops are common in North Korea, and the job is considered one of prestige.
12. The Mansudae Grand Monument features Kim Il-Sung and his son overlooking the capital city.
13. Towns such as this one east of Kaesong, near the DMZ, have become largely neglected.
14. A tour guide gives a recap of the Korean War in the gardens leading to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.
15. The official buildings in Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang are plastered with messages like "Long live our glorious Songun (military-first) revolutionary idea!"
16. This is a Music Appreciation Room in the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang.
17. The city of Kaesong, near the DMZ.
18. Buses, as we know them, don't really exist here.
19. A military checkpoint near the DMZ, close to the empty propaganda village of Kijong-dong. The village was a failed attempt to lure South Korean defectors, but it's uninhabited and the lights are all on timers to gibe the illusion of activity.
20. Pyongyang in the morning, as seen from the Yanggakdo Hotel.
21. Artists have gotten very good at creating propaganda.
22. Around 1,200 lucky North Korean kids can come to summer camp at the International Children’s Union Camp in Wonsan.
23. This statue of Kim Il-Sung on Janam Hill in Kaesong has alarms which go off if anyone approaches the stairs leading to it.
24. The Socialist Revolution Monument features figures that stand up to 16 feet tall.
25. Locals go about their daily routines in Wosan.
26. Wosan is a coastal city that is a major port city and home to a naval base. It also houses the Mangyongbong-92, which was use a ferry between North Korea and Japan... until Norh Korea admitted to using it to abduct Japanese citizens.
27. A propaganda poster in Haeju reads "Total concentration, total mobilisation. All head to the harvest battle!"
28. Cars are for the very wealthy or the elite, so most people travel on bicycles.
29. A view of Kin Il-Sung Square, where most major parades and rallies are held.
30. Locals enjoy a spot of fishing in Wosan, under the watchful gaze of the Great Leader and his son.
31. More propaganda on the route to Haeju.
32. Locals prepare for National Day, the celebration of North Korea's founding in 1948.
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H/T: True Activist.