North Korea Today


Amongst the many innocuous items that visitors may not enter North Korea with are cameras and cell phones. No excursions or interactions with local inhabitants are permitted. All such activities are strictly “choreographed” by one’s minder. In spite of the government’s best endeavours, over the years some intrepid diplomat or tourist has been able to circumvent these rules. 

North Korea jealously guards what is depicted about the hermit kingdom. Yet again this veil has been pierced, this time by an unnamed photographer who visited North Korea for sixteen days. 

These photos provide a peek into that life. 

Main picture: Propaganda is pervasive. Similar murals exist at most locations denoting when and how many times the leaders have visited that location

Most tourists are only allowed to visit Pyongyang, the political smokescreen of a city designed to look how the country wants to be seen by other countries. However, this photographer took the longest tour that the nation offers to tourists and was able to illegally snap photos of towns and citizens along the way.

From forbidden airlines to construction workers using medieval tools to citizens riding atop a hazardous bus, these photos tell the whole story of what North Korea does not want foreigners to see.

“Folklore Street” developed in the city of Sariwon, directly south of Pyongyang. Its purpose is to present a romanticized version of ancient Korea

“Folklore Street” developed in the city of Sariwon, directly south of Pyongyang. Its purpose is to present a romanticized version of ancient Korea

Like many other totalitarian countries, it styles itself as a Democratic People’s Republic. The people live in a time warp with history centred upon the war with the Americans in the 1950’s.

“Let’s thoroughly penetrate the militant tasks set out in this year’s New Year message!”, “The great Comrade Kim Jong-Il, we will be faithful till the end!”

“Let’s thoroughly penetrate the militant tasks set out in this year’s New Year message!”, “The great Comrade Kim Jong-Il, we will be faithful till the end!”

Jobs as an artists are plentiful if one can get them. There is only one caveat: They will always depict the image of the leader, now Kim Jong-Un.


A young boy sits innocently within a giant militaristic propaganda mural in the city of Haeju. It says long live the great victory of Songun (military-first) politics


A Socialist Revolution monument that features figures that scale up to as high as 5 meters


A Pyongyang local chatting to a city police officer after being pulled over


A young boy sits innocently within a giant militaristic propaganda mural in the city of Haeju


“Total concentration total mobilisation all head to the harvest battle” A propaganda billboard central to the rarely visited city of Haeju


A countryside town east of Kaesong along the DMZ has long been forgotten


A day at the beach for North Koreans


A local guide giving a recap on the Korean War in the beautiful preceding gardens to the victorious fatherland liberation war museum


When labour is cheap or free and in high supply, this is how gardens are maintained in Pyongyang


This spot is parallel to the Demilitarized Zone at what is known infamously as the concrete wall. It is a complete fiction.


This spot is parallel to the Demilitarized Zone at what is known infamously as the concrete wall


A monument that celebrates the common man in North Korea. It reads “long live the workers party of Korea, the leader and the organiser of all victories of the Korean people”


A Korean banquet presented in small metal bowls traditionally served to royalty in Kaesong’s history


A group of young men paying their respects at the Mansudae grand monument on Mansu Hill


A music appreciation room in the grand people’s study house in Pyongyang


At the DMZ, soldiers are more than happy to take photos with tourists and crack a smile


Cooking clams are done by lighting them on a fire with a layer of petrol until they are golden brown and ready to eat


Construction apparatus of this kind is commonplace throughout the entire country. The number of workforce deaths must be absolutely astounding


Commercial buildings in North Korea sport adverts of propaganda with one that reads “Long live the great revolutionary traditions of our party, hooray”


Citizens and even military officers traverse the streets of Pyongyang by bicycle as cars are reserved for the wealthy and elite only


An expansive mural in Chongchon Hotel at Mountain Myohyang where tourists can have a hot cuppa and a cigarette with the Dear Leader


About as good as it gets outside Pyongyang and other major towns


A North Korean tour guide reads a guidebook brought into the country by a tourist. He was fascinated what people from the outside world say about his beloved country


A North Korean monk at the Pohyon buddhist temple in Mount Myohyang


The typical restaurant setting inside Pyongyang. Murals decorate the walls depicting holy locations such as Mount Paekdu


The regally decored empty waiting room at Pyongyang’s Train Station


The Pyongyang Times translated into English has no love-lost for the United States’ leaders


The Pyongyang golf course where North Koreans can relax and just enjoy a friendly game of 18 holes with their peers


The only one star airline in the world. Air Koryo was banned from flying into the EU due to lack of safety standards


A morning view of North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang from the Yanggakdo Hotel


Morning in Kaesong City where propaganda can be heard from speakers situated in the buildings


Military helicopters flying above residents at the beach on the east coast where KPA officers, all armed with AK47s, strictly enforce curfews


Mansudae grand monument, the most prominent monument in the country, features Kim il Sung and his son overlooking their city


North Koreans are used to how they travel, oblivious to the danger that awaits them with how they board their vehicles


North Korean specialities like snake Soju wine and ginseng jelly among other treats are for sale at many tourist locations. The snake Soju is bottled with a live snake


National day celebrations like these include a mass dance to nationalistic music, marking the founding of North Korea. These performances are a sight to behold


Naengmyeon noodles: A North Korean delicacy served cold with dressing and red chilli paste


Locals tirelessly carry sacks up and down Manpok Valley for weight training


Locals selling local produce in the middle of a dirt road between Haeju and Sariwon


Locals pictured going about their day in the east coast city of Wonsan


Performers in the Pyongyang circus is a talented bunch with each putting up flawless performances


One can make out small solar panels sitting on apartment balconies proving that the country is starting to turn to alternative power sources to function


Not even train carriages are safe from propaganda. The subway is flooded with re-education to strengthen the people’s support of North Korea’smilitary


North Koreans can sport an array of haircuts that they can get from their local barber shops


Locals excited to begin a mass dance in Pyongyang for National Day, the celebration of the founding of North Korea in 1948


Locals being given instructions outside the Pyongyang circus theatre


Kim il Sung Square where most military parades mass dances and rallies are performed


Kim il Sung and his son look on as locals fish in Wonsan where seafood is plentiful


Just a small selection of the foreign texts available to purchase in North Korea


It is illegal to handle or obtain local North Korean Won as a foreigner in order to pay.


In the countryside of North Korea buses as we know them, do not exist


The Pyongyang Metro system is crucial to the city especially after opening up all stops to tourists back in 2014


Forming the southern gateway to Pyongyang is the Arch of Reunification opposite a controlled-access six lane highway that heads south to the Demilitarized Zone


Flowers lay at the base of an exemplary propaganda monument inside the grounds of the Mansudae art studio at Pyongyang


Female traffic enforcers are iconic to North Korea. These girls have what many consider as a highly respected profession around these parts


Female North Korean tour guides are always more than willing to give foreigners a glimpse of their country


Exiting the Pyongyang Metro. Kim jong il is always there to offer his encouragement


A North Korean local taking a nap on the back of a moving coal-powered truck


A North Korean family loves how the country is being run by their leaders with one of them saying that its a great place to live everyone has a job


This is what a local school bus looks like in North Korea children stacked up on top of one another for transit


This is a skit that plays as an interlude of the Pyongyang Circus. The skits featured here are mostly about the country’s military depicting American soldiers in a bad light


This building is within the proximity of the specialised Mount Kumgang tourism region on the south-east-border opposite a restricted road leading to South Korea


The military checkpoint at Panmunjom within the DMZ in the distance sits the infamous 160 metre flagpole amidst the empty propaganda village of Kijong Dong


The Mansudae art studio in Pyongyang pictured is a famous North Korean artist responsible for beautiful works displayed in buildings scattered across the city


The industrial city of Kaesong in the south near the DMZ


Outskirts of Kaesong adjacent to the Reunification Highway which dissects between Pyongyang and Kaesong


Police officers can have a discussion anywhere in North Korea even while on the streets of Kaesong


There are many dog meat soup restaurants in Pyongyang its so prevalent that the government even regulates the price


The revolutionary martyrs cemetery is a memorial to the North Korean soldiers who fought against the Japanese rule. It sits atop Mount Taesong


The museum of United States war atrocities


There is the International Children’s Union camp in Wonsan where people can send their children for summer camp. It can accommodate 1200 children


The horizon across South Korea. This open space is the joint security area and straddles the political border within the demilitarized zone


The end of each and every Metro Station is emblazoned by artistic talent similar to this


The edge of the harbour in the port city and naval base of Wonsan on the east coast where it stil houses the Mangyongbong 92 a vessel that provided ferry transport to


Tall buildings scatter the hillside around the port city of Wonsan probably intimidating the sea life in the area


Talented North Korean artists have become excellent at painting their political leaders


Students at Kim il Sung Square in Pyongyang ready to be the future leaders of the country


Structural integrity is an undefined term in North Korea


Statue of supreme leader Kim il Sung on Janam Hill in Kaesong where alarms are set off if anyone steps on the stairs to approach the figure


Soldiers from the Korean Peoples’ army enjoying some rides in the Pyongyang funfair in uniform


Snippet from a book entitled Kim Jong il the great man purchased from the foreign languages bookshop


Similar murals exist at most locations denoting when and how many times the leaders have visited and overseen their running both leaders are indeed seen as demi gods


Rough potholed and unmaintained this is still the best road in the DPK, the Pyongyang Kaesong Motorway Reunification Highway, provides a direct link south to the DMZ


Pyongyang doesn’t lack charm in a Soviet Communism Cold War kind of way


Pujon County in the north-east has slogan trees that tour guides love to present to tourists with pride. These trees are adorned with phrases to their country’s leaders


The entrance to the International Friendship Exhibition




  1. I just loove their snappy slogans on their posters.

    What is it about communism that has inspired such trite verbosity? Apart from learning the Communist manifesto, is it also compulsory to learn the art of the longwinded inspirational message?


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