Photographers' Blog

Window to North Korea

By Bobby Yip

A ten-day media tour to North Korea is a challenge for the authorities, as well as a challenge for the press. As one side tries to highly control what should be seen and who should be interviewed, the other side tries to show the world what the reality is.

Except visits to scheduled events, in most cases photographers are not allowed to walk on the street to take photos. Many of my images were shot through the window of a media bus or on one occasion through the window of a train. Watching the street scenes and the village scenes along the way, I felt an isolation between the people and me. I also sensed the isolation between the people themselves. It is the ideology behind the surface which distinguishes North Korea from many other countries, and it shows on the streets.

Events arranged for the media to cover are colorful.

North Korea surprisingly opened their rocket launch pad, as well as the control center at the site and another on the outskirts of the capital for media visits.

Another highlight which attracted media attention was ceremonial events surrounding the centenary of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung, including a military parade, fireworks display, concert and gala show.

There were also visits to factories, farms and a university.

Still, the scene closest to us all — ordinary lives being lived right outside our buses — is tightly controlled for media access.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 10 October 2010

North Korea opened its doors and the internet to the World's media to allow a glimpse of the parade which marked the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party. More importantly, it gave the world its first independent look at the protege Kim Jong-un. China based Chief Photographer Petar Kujundzic took full advantage of the opportunity.  The warmth of the picture of the women soldiers smiling - a rare glimpse into the world from which we normally only get formal, over compressed and pixelated images.

KOREA-NORTH/

North Korean female soldiers smile before a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang October 10, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic

KOREA-NORTH/

Female North Korean soldiers march during a military parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of founding of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang October 10, 2010. Secretive North Korea's leader-in-waiting, the youngest son of ailing ruler Kim Jong-il, took centre stage during a massive military parade on Sunday, appearing live for the first time in public.      REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic