North Korea’s showcase capital of Pyongyang has been in the spotlight for the last few months, receiving thousands of foreign guests for a major holiday and other national events meant to show off the country’s advances.
Foreigners have gawked at the new, futuristic buildings, the spectacle of the mass games, and the streets filled with clean, new taxis.
But the majority of the country’s citizens live outside Pyongyang and experience a vastly different daily life than that which has filled the airwaves of late.
North Korean authorities are not as shy these days about revealing the lack of development common throughout the country, as tourists can travel to more locations than ever and see the contrast between life in and outside the capital. But the reality still often gets lost in mainstream coverage of the country.
In the following photo set of life outside Pyongyang, people are seen transferring goods to and from markets, traveling by bicycle, train, by old and new buses, and on open rickety wagons towed by equally rickety old tractors. Kids relax, go to school, participate in sports day activities, but they also work.
When comparing the images below – all taken in September 2018 and mostly along the train route from Sinuiju to Pyongyang – with similar images of the countryside ten years ago, it is evident that living standards have not improved at the same rate as in the capital.
But in the small moments, captured on camera of ordinary people throughout North Korea, are reminders of the routines millions of people undertake, surrounded by propaganda signs and immersed in the changing socialist/capitalist economy. Take a moment to examine the images, zoom in and contemplate these routines and the individuals.