Many visitors to North Korea often feel like they’re not getting the whole story. Yes, traveling to the country on the many tours available can offer a unique look at the country not accessible from abroad. But the carefully managed and organized tours, combined with the ever-vigilant minders, mean that there’s often a sense you’re not getting the full picture.
You’re usually getting a government-approved narrative, and with interactions between locals and foreigners strictly controlled, hearing from ordinary North Korean citizens about the reality of their day-to-day lives is a rarity.
But what if you could tour North Korea’s capital and other major cities with a regular North Korean citizen, not a guide, contextualizing the sites and sounds of Pyongyang within their lives and experiences?
This is what NK News has tried to do, showing 94 photos taken this year by photographer Chris Petersen-Clausen to former Pyongyang residents to see what they can tell us about their hometown, what’s changed since they left, and what their memories say about the reality of life in North Korea.
- – Han Song Chol – A middle-aged former resident of Pyongyang who left the city in 2014 for South Korea
- – Kim Jun Hyok -A twenty-something former resident of Pyongyang who left the city in 2014 for South Korea
- – Kang Jimin – An NK News “Ask a North Korean” contributor, who left Pyongyang for the UK in 2005
- – Fyodor Tertitskiy – A Russian North Korean studies researcher, currently completing a PhD in Seoul, Republic of Korea
Chad O’Carroll, JH Ahn and Christina Lee contributed to this photo gallery