Not many mysterious places are left because the internet makes almost everything available. But North Korea is still secretive and hidden. It’s a country that keeps itself separate, so only a few outsiders get to see what it’s really like. Recently, some photographers took secret pictures showing what life is like there. If you’re curious about this unknown place, keep reading to learn more!
One Woman Wearing Pink in a Sea of Soldiers
In North Korea, taking pictures is mostly not allowed, especially of their army. They really don’t want anyone snapping photos of their soldiers. But this photographer went beyond that and got a picture of a woman walking among the soldiers, which is a big deal because they keep their army super hidden.
The bright pink dress she’s wearing really stands out among all those dark green uniforms. For a photographer, it’s almost impossible to resist capturing such an iconic moment with their camera.
Don’t Mess With the Queue
In North Korea, following strict rules is a must. This photo illustrates how even the smallest deviation from the set order is not tolerated. While lines and queues usually symbolize good organization elsewhere, this picture feels different. It doesn’t seem like people are willingly waiting in line out of politeness. The unnerving perfection in the image indicates that it’s forced rather than natural.
I wonder what these many people were lining up for. It’s quite a big crowd patiently waiting, which piques curiosity about the reason behind it all.
There Are Computers but No Electricity
When visiting North Korea, they allow photos of kids using computers. They want to show off their technological advancement. But here’s the catch: the computers often aren’t even plugged in. If your picture reveals this truth, they make you delete it.
They’re really serious about not letting the truth get out. The workaround? Stage scenes where kids pretend to use old, outdated computers that aren’t even plugged in. This way, they control what gets shown to the world without revealing the reality.
Most Soldiers Are Still Teenagers
In North Korea, military duty isn’t a choice. Many have to start around their mid-teens and serve for about ten years. This picture shows a thin young man, highlighting that soldiers often assist on local farms. It might be part of their service or due to a lack of people for farm work. Despite that, the photo beautifully captures a soldier walking among the flowers.
The most unsettling thing about this photo is that the boy seems too young to be working on a farm, let alone serving in the military.
This North Korean Man Is Weeding Grass by Hand
There are different theories about why photos like this become popular in the Western world. Some say people in North Korea are so malnourished that they gather grass from parks to eat. Others suggest it’s a way of hand-mowing the grass to maintain it.
In any case, if you have a similar photo, your North Korean guide will fiercely insist that you delete it from your camera.
Not the Black Market, but the Gray Market
The gray market, though not much better than the black market, is a somewhat legal business found widely in North Korea. People sell items like sweets, candies, or cigarettes to make some money. This isn’t unique to North Korea; it happens in many other communist countries too.
In North Korea, gray market goods typically refer to items that are scarce or in high demand. This can include everyday items like food, clothing, or electronics that are hard to find through official channels. Essentially, anything that’s difficult to obtain through regular means can fall into the category of gray market goods in North Korea.
The Forbidden Face of Malnutrition
It’s incredibly absurd that taking photos of malnutrition is forbidden in North Korea. Given the country’s situation, almost any picture of its citizens inadvertently shows signs of malnutrition. Instead of hiding it, maybe they should focus on ensuring their people aren’t malnourished in the first place.
Despite facing malnutrition, this young boy is seen wearing a military beret and the pin representing their “supreme leader.”
Kids Play in the Middle of Streets
In Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, cars are pretty rare. You won’t see many personal vehicles on the streets, which is why kids often play on the main roads without worrying about traffic. These photos show how they carry on playing as if there are no cars around at all.
It’s surprising they constructed such big roads considering there are hardly any cars to drive on them.
You Must Always Look Perfectly Kept
It must have been nerve-wracking for these students, knowing that their lives could be at risk if their shirts weren’t perfectly arranged for the photo. When the photographer wanted to take their picture, they hurried to straighten and tidy their shirts before the shot was taken, afraid of being seen as untidy.
While they appear happy, it’s tough not to think that their smiles might be forced, possibly because they were told to smile or face consequences.
What Life Is Really Like Outside of the Hotel Walls
Visitors in North Korea are under constant surveillance by government officials and aren’t allowed to freely explore the streets. A group of tourists was taken to a hotel made of old houses in Kaesong and then confined inside. If they ask to go beyond the hotel’s walls, they’re met with a rehearsed response: “Why do you want to go outside? It’s the same as being inside the hotel.”
Outside the hotel walls, things seem different. It’s hard to believe the government would have tourists stay in a place that looks like this.
A Shocking Act of Defiance From a Small Child
Rebellion is extremely rare in North Korea because it’s not allowed. People fear the consequences of not following the rules precisely. This boy, perhaps too young to fully grasp or already tired of the strict life, rebels by standing in the way of a bus on the road.
Being from Samjiyon in the northern part of North Korea, it’s hard to predict what the future holds for this boy. The circumstances and restrictions in his environment make it uncertain.
Constant Power Outages
One way to ensure unwavering loyalty from citizens is by portraying yourself as their protector against a larger, evil enemy. In North Korea, they’ve painted America as this threat and blame many of their problems on the American embargo. Even small issues, like a power outage in an art gallery, are sometimes attributed to the Americans.
Power outages happen frequently across North Korea every day. They make efforts to prevent them when foreigners are present, but they always have large flashlights ready, just in case.
The Land Where Soldiers Never Relax
Taking photos of soldiers relaxing is strictly forbidden in North Korea. The government wants to portray their soldiers as always alert and on guard to their enemies. However, this rare picture showing soldiers enjoying a cigarette managed to slip through their restrictions.
It’s intriguing to consider how these soldiers got hold of those cigarettes. In a country where food is scarce, cigarettes would likely be even harder to come by.
When a Tire Becomes a Boat
Life is undoubtedly tough for North Koreans. This fisherman, heading to Wonsan, couldn’t afford a boat, so he used a large tire as his means of transport. Rather than giving up, he improvised and continued fishing. Hopefully, he had a successful catch despite not having a proper boat.
This man’s creative solution might have helped him provide for his family. Judging by the many birds around, it seems like the lake or body of water has plenty of fish to offer.
The Dolphins Have Quite an Interesting Crowd
Among the typical tourist stops in North Korea is the Delphinium in Pyongyang, where you can take photos of the animals but not of the audience watching the performance. It’s likely they don’t want the world to see that most of the audience consists of soldiers.
In the crowd, there are a few individuals who seem to be civilians, but the majority consists of military personnel, which is quite unsettling. It’s possible it was a group outing for the soldiers, but that scenario seems highly improbable.
Grocery Stores Only for the Elite
Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, surprisingly has only two grocery stores. These stores offer various foods and drinks, including imported Evian water. Payments can be made in euros or wons. The catch? Only the elite have access and can afford to shop there.
It’s quite disheartening to realize that the capital city has just two grocery stores. What’s even more concerning is the limited number of people who can actually shop there. This woman, dressed in a vibrant purple gown, epitomizes the elite class in North Korea.
Taking Photos of Soliders Is Not Permitted
There are pretty strict policies against taking photographs of anything military-related. You would not be allowed to take photos of military compounds, soldiers, vehicles, or anything of that nature in North Korea. It is rigorous if you are near any military checkpoints. However, in the DMZ, known as Demilitarized Zone, it is pretty easy to take pictures. This is because it’s a buffer zone between North and South Korea where no military activities are allowed.
If you’re seeking photos, these grocery stores might be the spot, but it’s best to ask a soldier politely. If they’re in a good mood, maybe they’ll agree.
Never Show An Official In A Bad Light
In North Korea, one big taboo is portraying officials in a negative light. This photo does exactly that, especially in the eyes of the North Korean authorities. Even though this man simply fell asleep during a Christian church service, his relaxed and unprofessional posture could land him in serious trouble.
It would be intriguing to learn more about this church and whether anyone other than tourists visiting the country is allowed to attend services there.
Performers Must Be Perfect
This scene is at the Pyongyang Circus Theater, where acrobatics are highly promoted. In North Korea, perfection is a strict standard, even for these performers. Mistakes aren’t tolerated, so only the most exceptional talents get to perform for live audiences, and they practice relentlessly. However, if a photo captured them making a mistake, it could lead to severe consequences for the performers.the stunts these acrobats perform demand incredible athleticism, unwavering dedication, and intense focus. Their skills are undeniably impressive, whether or not they make any mistakes.
The Exterior Might Look Fine but Its Moments From Falling Apart
Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, is often depicted as pristine, with meticulously maintained buildings and no visible trash, creating an image of perfection. However, this outward appearance hides the reality that while the exteriors may seem flawless, the insides of buildings can be dilapidated and crumbling.
It’s conceivable that this building might be empty or unused inside, merely serving as a facade to present the image of a typical inhabited structure.
The Bathtub Became a Cistern
In North Korea, some families are considered fortunate to live in designated rural homes, selected by the government. However, despite this privilege, their living conditions aren’t luxurious. Upon inspecting the house, it’s evident that they repurpose the bathtub as a cistern instead of using it for its intended bathing purpose.
In North Korea, certain families are deemed lucky to reside in specific rural homes chosen by the government. However, despite this advantage, their living standards are far from luxurious. Inside these homes, it’s noticeable that they use the bathtub for something other than its original purpose – it serves as a cistern rather than for bathing.
The Statue in the Background Makes This Photo Illegal
It seems to be a regular sunny day, with someone hanging clothes and carpets over the fence by the Taedong River to dry. Initially, it seems fine, but because there’s a faint image of Kim Il Sung’s statue in the background, the photo can’t be taken. Despite this odd rule, the picture itself is stunning, capturing a serene and peaceful scene by the river.
Absolutely, if you plan to visit North Korea, it’s crucial to research what you’re not allowed to photograph beforehand. Understanding these restrictions can help ensure a smoother and more respectful experience during your visit.
You Need a Permit to Travel Between Cities
Most North Korean citizens won’t travel abroad, but even moving within the country is challenging. Permits are required for travel between cities, and public transportation is scarce. Hitchhiking, especially among soldiers as seen in this picture, is common due to the lack of available transportation options.
It seems like a bit of a competition among the hitchhikers, with so many people waiting, all vying to catch a ride first.
Don’t Document a Work in Progress
In Chilbo city, a painter was creating an intricate mural for a new project. When a foreigner tried to take a photo of the painter, unlike in most countries, all the passersby started yelling at the photographer to stop. Since the painting was unfinished, this photograph is not allowed to exist.
In North Korea, there’s a particular sensitivity around showing unfinished artwork. It’s not about the quality; rather, it’s more about portraying a sense of flawlessness and perfection to the outside world. Displaying unfinished art might contradict the image they aim to project – one of precision and excellence in everything they do.
No Camera Flashes Allowed Because They Can Scare People
While traveling in North Korea, this person had to take a different route back to their hotel due to some regular streets being closed. This led them through backroads seldom used by visitors. They were sternly advised not to take photos of anything they saw along the way, especially to “prevent frightening people.”
The idea that people might be frightened by a camera flash is concerning on several levels. It suggests they’re seen either as animals in a zoo or as easily frightened individuals if a simple flash can scare them.
Photographing Something Broken Is Also Strictly Forbidden
The list of forbidden subjects to photograph in North Korea keeps expanding, now including anything that’s broken. This rule aims to maintain the illusion of a flawless life in the country, suggesting there are no issues whatsoever. However, this prohibition is not only absurd but also highlights the falsehood in portraying a perfect existence when life cannot truly be without its flaws.
It does seem like quite the challenge! Sometimes, situations can feel overwhelming or like an uphill battle. But the determination these individuals have to push that bus forward is impressive. It’s a reminder of the power of teamwork and perseverance, even in the face of what might seem like an impossible task. There’s a certain resilience in their efforts, don’t you think?
Just Resting on a Bench
It’s tough to tell from just one photo. The photographer thinks they were resting at a fair, but without more info, it’s hard to be sure about their situation.
Absolutely, homelessness is a global issue, and no country has completely eradicated it. It exists in various forms and extents worldwide, regardless of the political or social structure in place. While certain places might not openly acknowledge or report homelessness, it doesn’t mean the issue doesn’t exist there. Addressing homelessness requires collective efforts and support systems to ensure everyone has access to shelter and support.
Never Take a Picture From the Rear
Kim Jong-un’s image and the rules surrounding it are tightly controlled in North Korea. There’s a significant emphasis on portraying leaders in a certain light, and restrictions on capturing specific angles or aspects of their appearance are part of that control. It’s indeed a highly regulated aspect of the country’s leadership and culture.
That’s an interesting and creative idea! While it might solve the issue of capturing him from the back, the complexities surrounding leadership portrayal and control in North Korea likely extend beyond physical representations. It’s fascinating to think about alternative approaches, but such changes would likely require shifts in broader cultural and political norms.
Under Kim Il-Sung, jazz music was prohibited, and music had to align with ideology. Kim Jong-il allowed more music diversity, including Western influences. Learning the accordion became a requirement for North Korean teachers, showcasing its cultural significance.
The Moranbong Band is a highly selective musical group chosen by Kim Jong-un. They exclusively perform at formal events and televised concerts, representing a carefully curated cultural image within North Korea.
Not the Ideal Place for the Disabled
Moranbong Band, handpicked by Kim Jong-un, performs exclusively at formal events and televised concerts in North Korea.
Certainly, the lack of wheelchairs in North Korea is concerning. Access to assistive devices like wheelchairs is crucial for disabled individuals. Improving funding and support could hopefully provide more of these essential resources to help enhance the lives of disabled citizens in the country.
Unveiling the authenticity of smuggled images from North Korea requires meticulous verification methods and contextual analysis. Given the restricted access and controlled narrative within the country, examining these pictures demands a balanced approach, combining expert scrutiny, corroborating evidence, and a deep understanding of the region’s socio-political dynamics.