Impressions from the DPRK. North Korea in 2019.

Above and below - Watching celebration dances on the occasion of the birthday of the late Kim Jong-Il - Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019

I believe my desire to visit twice in 2019 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is well summarised by the quote of Japanese Magnum photographer Hiroji Kubota: “Study the works of the greatest photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertesz. Try to travel to many parts of the world and understand what a diverse world we live in.” Hiroji was in North Korea in 1986.

So in February 2019, a week before the second Trump Kim summit in Hanoi, I travelled to North Korea with Koryo tours, in and around Pyongyang for one week. Beyond the prospects of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the most hermetic power on the globe, I wanted to document what life is for its citizens, away from the propaganda images we are used to see. I decided to go back in November 2019 for one week, this time with Choson Exchange, a Singapore based social nonprofit organisation focused on economic policy, business and legal training for young North Koreans.

The giant portraits of Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea with on the right his son Kim Jong Il are pretty much omnipresent throughout Pyongyang and the country - Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019
The subway in Pyongyang consists of two lines and 16 stations. Operations started in 1973. Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019
You can pay for your fare with paper tickets, aluminium tokens. Today contactless cards are also available - Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019
Above - For most people it probably feels like "Métro, Boulot, Dodo" as the French expression says or "Work, work, work" if you prefer a less poetic English version - Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019
Women at work in a cooperative farm growing vegetables in greenhouses - Outside of Pyongyang, DPRK - 20 February 2019
Munsu Water Park - Everything under control at the indoor pools and water slides - Pyongyang, DPRK - 17 February 2019
Track and field is a pretty universal sport you can see people practice all around the world. Here is no exception as I could witness in this middle school. Pyongyang, DPRK - 20 February 2019
Trapezist performing incredible feats way high above ground - Pyongyang, DPRK - 22 November 2019
Probably not all people have access to such sporting and events facilities but I was nevertheless impressed by the quality and cleanliness.
Newlyweds posing in from the two vast bronze statues of the smiling Great Leader and Dear Leader at the Mansudae Grand Monument - Pyongyang, North Korea - 16 February 2019
You have to taste cold noodles in Pyongyang as we did in this restaurant. The restaurant was not heated so there was no risk to warm up the noodles which are meant to be served cold anyway. All good. Pyongyang, DPRK - 18 February 2019
Local initiatives seem possible in North Korea like at this small kiosk selling delicious donuts and sweets. Pyongyang, DPRK - 17 February 2019
Above - a view from my hotel room of the ballet of trolleybuses, cars and people going somewhere. Pyongyang, DPRK - 21 Novembre 2019 - 7:47am
The West Sea Barrage is a tidal barrage, closing the Taedong (flowing through Pyongyang) river off from the Yellow Sea. Large areas of water are frozen in winter and provide ways for people to do ice fishing - On Nampo dam, DPRK - 20 February 2019
Modern day Pyongyang from the top of the Juche tower. The city was completely rebuilt after being flattened during the Korean War from 1950 till 1953 when the armistice was signed. Pyongyang, DPRK - 16 February 2019
In 2019, the two weeks I spent in the DPRK or North Korea gave me only a glimpse of life there. I will certainly be back.

The two weeks I spent in the DPRK, mostly in Pyongyang were certainly a strong human experience like to be able to see an hermetic way of life and to teach the North Koreans. Their future is very much today in the hands of their leadership and international bodies but you never know, in some years, things could change with the potential reunification with the South, something both sides are looking forward to it. No one can really predict what the future holds but surely I can say that the humans have encountered deserve to be exposed more to what our world has to offer so they can hopefully influence their future and make a choice.

Created By
Alain Schneuwly


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