For many people around the world, North Korea is a very mysterious place. The Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea is a nation ruled by dictator Kim Jung Un. He inherited his rule from his father, Kim Jung Il, who died in 2011. Both men are known for ruling with an iron fist. Travel in and out of the country is extremely restricted, and it is very hard to get the opportunity to visit. One photographer, Michael Huniewicz was able to get permission to travel inside the veiled Communist state. Photography is also extremely restricted, and in many areas even prohibited. Nonetheless, this photographer wanted to capture the reality of goes on inside the country, not just the staged scenes for outsiders that many others have been shown. He was able to smuggle many illegal pictures out of the country, and he was kind enough to share them on the internet. Check out the deplorable conditions, and the constant fear these people live through everyday.
There is a military presence almost everywhere you go throughout Pyongyang, which is the capital of the nation.
This shot shows you the complete and utter difference between North Korea (left) and China (right). It seems inconceivable that two countries so close to each other, and who are actually allied with each could have such different future outlooks.
This picture shows an even more stark contrast. Hong Kong is lit up like a Christmas tree, while North Korea sits dimly lit.
There are several of these customs forms that must be filled out before you can enter the country. The state is very serious about what is brought into and out of the country.
This is the first photo that the photographer took. He was on a train where photography is illegal.
These men are waiting by this train in the hopes of selling human feces for fertilizer. These are the types of things people here are forced to do to survive.
This sign translates to, “The Korean Workers Party is never going to forget the comrades of Rakwon City”.
Even travel within the country by its citizens is restricted. They are not allowed to travel through the country without a special permit from the government.
Military presence isn’t exclusively located in Pyongyang. The country is constantly patrolled by military units.
Even though the military is taken care of much better than a normal citizen, this gate guard doesn’t look like he has had a shower in quite a while.
This is the train station that marks your arrival into Pyongyang. The photographer surmised that this scene was incredibly staged. The biggest hint was that there was no other train scheduled to come in that day, so what would these people who look like passengers be doing there.
After getting off the train, the photographers guide was on him like a hawk. This man would not leave the photographer’s side the entire trip. He would actually tell him when to go to bed and when to wake up.
Maybe it’s just me, but every single person in this photograph looks pretty miserable.
This is an example of the brutalist style of architecture that dominates Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. The raw concrete looks just adds to the feeling that this entire country is a prison and its citizens are the prisoners.
The view from the photographers hotel room in the Yanggkado. Even the sky is colorless in this place.
This hotel officially does not have a 5th floor. There is one contained in the building however, and it is only accessible by stairs. The door to the room is almost always closed. If you are lucky enough to sneak in when it is open though, the entire floor is filled with propaganda posters. It is also believed the floor is used to spy on guests of the hotel.
The government does not allow interaction with almost any of the locals. The photographer said that many of the waitresses that served him his meals seemed even slightly frightened of the outsider.
This is the square of Kim Il Sung. This is one of the areas the government actually wants you to photograph. Probably because there are no people to look like their souls are absolutely crushed in the pictures.
People who actually live in Pyongyang are considered privileged, and where these pins around all day, every day. Authentic ones are impossible to buy. You can purchase fake ones in China however.
According to North Korean law, you are not allowed to take pictures of these two statues unless both of their bodies are featured in their entirety. The photographer obviously didn’t give a damn.
This shop is for locals only, and the photographer took a big risk by taking a picture here. He had about 15 seconds to do it before his guide caught him and kicked him out. Luckily, he didn’t see him snap this picture.
These are the souvenirs you can buy….
The city is clean, but that is just for appearances. The country itself is extremely dirty.
Traffic was almost non-existent throughout the city. Even so, the travelers passports were taken away and they were forbidden to go anywhere alone for fear of being in a car accident.
Even workers operated in the city with a military discipline like mentality.
The city may be clean, but when nature calls you gotta do what you gotta do.
Socialist murals appear all over the city.
This shot shows people who are commuting to work. Once again, they look absolutely miserable.
It really is amazing how much this country regulates what can and can’t be shown by photographers. It is a far cry from growing up in the United States where freedom of the press has been a staple of our government for so long. The North Korean government does it’s best to try to show only positive things, but you don’t have to venture far off the beaten path to see that things are seriously wrong in this place. This is country run by fear and oppression, and no matter how hard their government tries to hide it, the world knows how these people really live.