Photo Album: Beyond The Monuments & Statues

May 24th, 2012
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Photos compiled by Nicolle Loughlin 

Every month or so a major newspaper publishes “rare” photos of “daily life” inside North Korea.  Often the accompanying article explains how the “privileged” photographer got in with exceptional access to shoot daily life in North Korea. But a close look at these albums shows that beyond some often beautifully artistic shots, these albums rarely offer the “rare glimpses” into North Korea they make out to be.   Instead, they usually present samey photos of the Pyongyang metro, “unhindered” views from the 35th floor of the Yanggakdo hotel, and of course an obligatory shot of the “empty” highway to Kaesong.

Take a look at the titles and content of some recent albums and you will see a number of familiar statues, monuments and locations.  None really offer what they claim to.

  • Rare Pictures from Inside North KoreaTIME Magazine
    Pyongyang Metro, Propaganda, Department Store
  • Inside North Korea – The Atlantic
    Views from the Koryo Hotel, Juche Tower, and road to Kaesong
  • Daily Life inside North KoreaOttawa Citizen
    Pyongyang Metro, May Day Stadium, Ryugyong Hotel & more….

So what is the point of these albums? Aren’t we just seeing what the North Korean tourist board wants us to see?  For the most part, yes.

However, sometimes on a tour you can actually get some rather interesting shots inside North Korea.  Shots beyond the statues, monuments and clichéd imagery you’ve likely seen a hundred times.

While I can’t pretend to have had any sort of unprecedented access to North Korea, I thought it might be interesting to show some of the more interesting photos I’ve taken over the years – photos that I hope go beyond the statues and monuments you might be used to by now.

I recommend viewing on Flickr directly, so you can see the captions that describe what you will see…

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About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.