Envisioning North Korea
September 20, 2011
All photos: David Guttenfelder/Associated Press
What does North Korea’s interior look like? Over the last decade, David Guttenfelder, chief Asia photographer for the Associated Press, has traveled to North Korea to cover the life and times of one of the world’s most isolated countries. On these excursions, Guttenfelder was kept under the surveillance of government officials and courted in the heavily orchestrated manner of official regalia. He was given tours of stately, yet barren urban plazas, shown the colossal, but artistically vacuous effigies of state sovereigns, and driven past enveloping landscapes of stalled construction sites. But earlier this year, the photographer was allowed to travel into the countryside with North Korean journalists, not government sentinels. More after the jump!
There, he assembled a body of photographs which form a more complex image of a society most view as totalitarian and backwards. In the photos posted by Boston.com’s The Big Picture, Guttenfelder frames the remnants of North Korea’s fragile mobilization and urbanization efforts in stark reality. The environments are inhospitable, and Guttenfelder communicates their idleness and anonymity through the solitary human figure. A lonely man surveys the monolithic Ryugyong Hotel rising from the mesa of Pyongyang’s cityscape, while a young female officer stands frozen confronting the void of empty highways.
Recently, North Korea has gradually opened itself up to tourism, as is the case with the development of the special economic zone at Rason City in collaboration with Chinese, Russian, and Thai allies. China’s fiscal support, in particular, has proved and will continue to be vital in resurrecting the North Korean economy.
[via Boston.com's The Big Picture]