North Korea is a mystery to many. In fact, the images that we do get from the country are all very curated. However, someone is occasionally able to take candid shots and share them with the world so that we can all get a glimpse of what life is really like there. These images show us a very real and interesting world that has more to it then what we have seen in the past. That is why we curated this list of images that show you a side to North Korea that is very rarely seen. These images could give you a whole new perspective of the secretive country.
If you are interested in seeing these rare images of North Korea, make sure to click the NEXT button below and peruse our gallery.
The Woman In Pink
The woman in pink isn’t an unusual sight, and women in the capital city often wear traditional garb or simply dress up. The image is captivating because this bright pink is among a sea of soldiers at some sort of gathering. When traveling in North Korea, you are told that taking images of the military is expressly forbidden. However, this photographer was crafty and got this amazing shot that shows us a little more than we are normally allowed to see.
Just Press CTRL+ALT+DEL
When you are visiting North Korea, you are escorted through the country by guides. These guides often take you to local family homes, and sometimes, you are even hosted in the home of these families. The guides actually love when you take photos of the kids using computers and acting as other kids would. Unless, of course, there is no electricity. Then, they would rather you didn’t take photographs or delete the ones you have.
Lending a Hand
The military is a very respected career in the country, and they take on a lot of duties. Sometimes, they even help out local farms with a little manual labor. This keeps them present in the everyday life of the people. By doing these tasks and helping out local farmers, the military and the government are boosting the image of these men. You may run across this sight if you are visiting this very sheltered country.
Just Picking Some Grass
This image of a man collecting grass from the park is something that you may have seen in other places before. It is a popular image that shows a very different reality from what the government wants to portray. This man is actually collecting grass from this park so that he can take it home to eat with his family. Needless to say, your guides will not be too happy if you end up snapping a few of these images.
Children in North Korea are very disciplined. They are quiet, respectful of their elders, and tend not to do things out of the realms of the law. Every child is different, and there are bound to be a few rebels. Look at this little man who was trying to stop the local bus. Apparently, this bus on a small road wasn’t planning on stopping, and this little boy was going to make sure it did.
Fix Your Collar
The way you present yourself in North Koran culture is very important. This is especially true if you are visiting the city. After all, you don’t want to appear poor. However, in this image, you see a guy and his lady enjoying a little music in the park and unwinding. The moment she sees the camera, though, she begins to fidget and try to get her man to look a little more presentable. She’s not so different from ladies in other parts of the world!
Don’t Play In The Street!
Until recently, car ownership in North Korea was quite limited. Of course, this left the streets of the cities rather barren and an open playground for children. With the increase in car ownership, though, the roads have begun to see more traffic. Even with this increased car presence, the kids are still using the streets to hang out and play in. Hopefully, if the roads begin to get more congested, someone will do something to protect these little ones and teach them that you shouldn’t play in the road.
The capital city of Pyongyang has a rather decent subway system. In fact, it is the world’s deepest subway system, and on top of that, these terminals also act as bomb shelters in case of a nuclear attack. However, like with almost everything else in North Korea, taking images is frowned upon in the subway stations. This photographer was even asked to delete the image because you could see the tunnels.
Another image that you will not see too often is one of an artist with an unfinished piece of work. This is because all art is propaganda and state-sponsored, so they are required to show a likeness of the leader or beautiful parts of the culture. Showing an unfinished work is a faux pas and one that could get you in serious trouble. At the very least, people are going to suggest you erase the image.
Don’t Take That Picture
Poverty and malnutrition exist in every country, but in North Korea, the government and your state-sponsored guides don’t want the world to see their hungry people. They feel that it shines a negative light on their way of life. Thus, snapping a pic like this one of a young man who is rail-thin is a big no-no. Even though this young gentleman looks to be hungry, he is still showing his patriotism with a pin of the supreme commander and his military hat.
When your guide takes you to the complex near the DMZ, you will be sequestered in a hotel complex of aging homes. By making this the visitor’s home base, the guide can influence and prevent most tourists or visitors from going outside. After all, the town and surroundings are no different than what you are staying in, right? The answer to that would be no, and getting an image of that would be frowned upon.
Just like it is against the rules to take images of soldiers at an event, it is also very frowned upon to snap images of the soldiers relaxing or taking a break. This gives the illusion that North Korean military men are the same as everyone else in the world. Here, you get to see the soldiers taking a quick smoke break and catching up with some of their friends. This could be an image of any military guy when the commander says “at ease” or “dismissed”.
When you are living from hand to mouth, you have to make do with the things around you. This means that, if you don’t have a boat but want to get on the lake to catch a few fish for dinner, you find a way. For this North Korean man, that means carving an inner tube from a tire and using it as a makeshift boat! Clever! We are sure he caught some fish and rowed back home happy that he had this spare tire around.
How Does It Work?
The government sponsors many youth camps. Some of these allow kids from rural communities a chance to come into the city and have some fun with kids they would never have the chance to meet otherwise. Unfortunately, because these children live so rurally, some of the technology causes a little confusion. Look at these escalators – the children aren’t quite sure how they work and are a little scared to try them out.
There is a delphinium in Pyongyang, and they suggest you take images of the animals. However, they would like you to stay away from photographing the audience the best you can. Why do you ask? Well, it may have something to do with most of it being North Korean soldiers. As we have said, the government doesn’t like pictures of their military. On top of that, the fact that this attraction has to be filled with them may present a bad image of the country.
One Single Line
In North Korea, lines are apparently a way of life. This may be why they have developed a good level of order when standing in lines. This long line waiting for buses shows the structure and order they have even in this situation. Even though there is a lot of order, it still looks like there may be a few line cutters roaming around. We are sure they won’t get too far with this well-organized system, though.
Just Shutting My Eyes For a Second
One of the rules that are key to visiting North Korea and taking pictures is to be careful how you photograph officials. You should always show them in the best light possible. This is why this image is one of the rare ones out there. This official is attending church. Whether the sermon was a little boring or the official had been working a little too hard, he nodded off and made it easy for this photographer to take this photo.
When visiting North Korea, the guides will take you to visit rural families that have been selected very carefully. This usually means that the house will be clean and more modern than some of the others in the village. Of course, these guides are humans, and sometimes, there are oversights. Look at this image of a country home that has DIY’ed their own cistern in their bathroom. This probably makes getting water a lot easier than going to the well.
Taking A Power Nap
Sometimes, you get tired and just need a little shut-eye. This soldier clearly felt this way and found himself a nice soft patch of grass to take care of his needs. It looks like a scenic and lovely place to relax a bit. Not only is he in his uniform, but he is also seen here relaxing. Having a photo of either of these is a big issue when it comes to any visitor or journalist.
North Korea doesn’t like it when images show that they have poor or impoverished citizens. Even though every country has them to varying degrees, they still want to keep a specific image in the eyes of the world. That is why most of the guides that take you around will expressly forbid taking an image like this. However, it is a part of life, and the world would understand.
Filming A Filming
North Korean officials are very particular about what video is shot, as well. When you are filming with a professional camera, they will send at least one camera to follow you as you do so. We assume this is to ensure you aren’t taking any unflattering videos or any shots of sensitive locals. Having a cameraman follow their own cameraman, that is some next level insurance!
Unless you are a state-sponsored handyman or construction company, you will have to figure out how to get the thing done without all the fancy equipment like safety harnesses and proper safety clothing. This may look like some sort of amusement park ride, but it is actually a local group of men looking to do a little repair work on one of the village’s building windows. It looks like they have a system down, though. This image shows that where there is a will, there’s a way. It may not be safe, but there is one, nevertheless.
No Flashes Please
In smaller cities, there are many street closures, especially when they are dealing with visitors. When traveling at night, the guide will ask that you don’t take photos with a flash. They say it is because they don’t want to scare people. This may be the case, or they may be wanting to keep the outside world from seeing the normal everyday life of their citizens.
Pyongyang has two supermarkets that have a wide selection of food and beverages available. The store will take both Euros and Wons. They even have foreign food and beverages like Evian water. Because of this, they tend to cater to the more well-off – particularly, business people, government officials, and those who have plenty of money to pay the high price tags attached to these luxuries. The presence of these foods and such may be why they aren’t happy when you take photos here.