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(Japan Times)   Rare photos of Best Korea shows life beyond the 38th parallel, no Unicorns   (japantimes.co.jp) divider line 111
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31730 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Dec 2012 at 10:47 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-12-16 01:37:47 AM
Very interesting find. I did not expect the pictures to be so colorful.
 
2012-12-16 10:34:44 AM
meh, that's just Pyongyang. Potempkin village is Potempkin.
 
2012-12-16 10:49:50 AM
Looks iike a fun place. Esp with the political officers standing around with clubs every 10 feet.
 
2012-12-16 10:52:31 AM
They are the 1%.
 
2012-12-16 10:54:21 AM
Picture #7 would make pre-Internet me all sorts of happy.

\remember when that qualified as "porn" to a 13 year old?
 
2012-12-16 10:54:51 AM
It's very intriguing. On the one hand, we do know the people working in the government (and the rare tourist) live rather decent lives, especially in the city capital. But, on the other hand, some of there photos seem to question some of the views we have of Best Korea. Some, not all.
 
2012-12-16 10:55:04 AM
Don't believe the terrible things you've heard. Just look at these ten carefully-selected pictures!
 
2012-12-16 10:57:10 AM
At a recent talk in Tokyo, Hatsuzawa explained that many people's first reaction to his photographs of the so-called Hermit Kingdom is that he must have been duped - that the North Korean propaganda machine must have planted these oddly photogenic people in his path in order to create a good impression.

Man, this.
 
2012-12-16 10:59:30 AM

Bit'O'Gristle: Looks iike a fun place. Esp with the political officers standing around with clubs every 10 feet.


They like to go clubbing.
 
2012-12-16 11:00:06 AM

FriarReb98: Picture #7 would make pre-Internet me all sorts of happy.

\remember when that qualified as "porn" to a 13 year old?


I don't even have to go back and look. I know which one you're talking about. And yes, I do.
 
2012-12-16 11:04:32 AM
Here's a link I've posted a few times about an American teacher living in in South Korea, who travels to North Korea with a group of tourists for the Arirang Festival. Lot's of pictures and he also speaks fluent Korean, which made his trip even more interesting. "Journey into Kimland"
 
2012-12-16 11:05:39 AM
I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

Spent about a week mostly in Pyongyang, with some day trips to the DMZ, an industrial city, and a 'resort' village. Even got to see the Mass Games twice during the trip. I've traveled to a number of interesting places, but North Korea is by far the single most interesting place I've ever been to. Their people are completely isolated from the rest of the world - no internet, no ability to call outside the country, no ability to leave the county, no foreign media, only two or three state run tv channels pumping out propaganda 24 hours a day, almost no outside information whatsoever. It's like being in a huge, mind boggling social experiment. You essentially have an entire generation of people since the Korean war that know next to nothing about the outside world other than what the government has taught them. It's an absolutely fascinating experience.

The people in DPRK were incredibly friendly too, even knowing that I'm an American. I actually feel really bad for the Koreans - they're completely held hostage by their leadership.

I'd highly suggest that anyone with with more than just a passing curiosity a of DPRK visit themselves to see it first hand. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Took a ton of photos while there:
DPRK Vacation 2012

Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.
 
2012-12-16 11:09:24 AM

krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

Spent about a week mostly in Pyongyang, with some day trips to the DMZ, an industrial city, and a 'resort' village. Even got to see the Mass Games twice during the trip. I've traveled to a number of interesting places, but North Korea is by far the single most interesting place I've ever been to. Their people are completely isolated from the rest of the world - no internet, no ability to call outside the country, no ability to leave the county, no foreign media, only two or three state run tv channels pumping out propaganda 24 hours a day, almost no outside information whatsoever. It's like being in a huge, mind boggling social experiment. You essentially have an entire generation of people since the Korean war that know next to nothing about the outside world other than what the government has taught them. It's an absolutely fascinating experience.

The people in DPRK were incredibly friendly too, even knowing that I'm an American. I actually feel really bad for the Koreans - they're completely held hostage by their leadership.

I'd highly suggest that anyone with with more than just a passing curiosity a of DPRK visit themselves to see it first hand. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Took a ton of photos while there:
DPRK Vacation 2012

Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.


I thought Americans were not permitted to visit. How did you manage it?
 
2012-12-16 11:14:03 AM

FriarReb98: Picture #7 would make pre-Internet me all sorts of happy.

\remember when that qualified as "porn" to a 13 year old?


I remember that. And yes, she's gorgeous.
 
2012-12-16 11:14:21 AM
This is more realistic VICE - Inside North Korea.
 
2012-12-16 11:17:08 AM
gangnam style

toomanykisses.com


hotrink
 
2012-12-16 11:18:28 AM
I like how no one ever seems to be smiling there. Or is that what I'm supposed to think?

Anyways...
www.japantimes.co.jp 

We have two pimps arguing over the take from the prostitutes who are rolling some chump. Siamese twin birth defects. Somebody retrieving drinking water for his family from a puddle. A decadent Mercedes that must belong to a political operative. A pedophile eyeballing the twins. And two gays working out an arrangement.

What a hellhole

/never mind the pile of rocks blocking the roadway and dilapidated facades.
 
2012-12-16 11:19:23 AM
Every picture released from North Korea seems like it was staged at gunpoint.
 
2012-12-16 11:20:03 AM
I love North Korea very much from a different perspective. It gives a very good justification for South Korea and Japan to buy expensive American military weapons. North Korea is helping the American economy in a different way.

Let's keep North Korea evil and inhumane mostly because the free democratic parts of the world need a insignificant and aggressive scapegoat with a nuclear weapon. Eventually modern democracy needs a perpetual enemy like North Korea to prosper itself.
 
2012-12-16 11:21:25 AM

aagrajag: krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

Spent about a week mostly in Pyongyang, with some day trips to the DMZ, an industrial city, and a 'resort' village. Even got to see the Mass Games twice during the trip. I've traveled to a number of interesting places, but North Korea is by far the single most interesting place I've ever been to. Their people are completely isolated from the rest of the world - no internet, no ability to call outside the country, no ability to leave the county, no foreign media, only two or three state run tv channels pumping out propaganda 24 hours a day, almost no outside information whatsoever. It's like being in a huge, mind boggling social experiment. You essentially have an entire generation of people since the Korean war that know next to nothing about the outside world other than what the government has taught them. It's an absolutely fascinating experience.

The people in DPRK were incredibly friendly too, even knowing that I'm an American. I actually feel really bad for the Koreans - they're completely held hostage by their leadership.

I'd highly suggest that anyone with with more than just a passing curiosity a of DPRK visit themselves to see it first hand. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Took a ton of photos while there:
DPRK Vacation 2012

Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.

I thought Americans were not permitted to visit. How did you manage it?


I didn't save the link, but the story I read mentioned booking a tour in China. Best Korea immigration would stamp your passport on a paper they staple in it, and remove that paper when you leave. It was like you were never there.
 
2012-12-16 11:21:26 AM

krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

Spent about a week mostly in Pyongyang, with some day trips to the DMZ, an industrial city, and a 'resort' village. Even got to see the Mass Games twice during the trip. I've traveled to a number of interesting places, but North Korea is by far the single most interesting place I've ever been to. Their people are completely isolated from the rest of the world - no internet, no ability to call outside the country, no ability to leave the county, no foreign media, only two or three state run tv channels pumping out propaganda 24 hours a day, almost no outside information whatsoever. It's like being in a huge, mind boggling social experiment. You essentially have an entire generation of people since the Korean war that know next to nothing about the outside world other than what the government has taught them. It's an absolutely fascinating experience.

The people in DPRK were incredibly friendly too, even knowing that I'm an American. I actually feel really bad for the Koreans - they're completely held hostage by their leadership.

I'd highly suggest that anyone with with more than just a passing curiosity a of DPRK visit themselves to see it first hand. It was one of the best experiences I've ever had.

Took a ton of photos while there:
DPRK Vacation 2012

Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.


This. DPRK is definitely the most interesting place I've ever visited, not least because I was so surprised that it wasn't as dreary and gray as our media makes it out to be. The people were indeed super friendly. Though I did notice that most of the infrastructure seemed to be in some state of decay. Also got the stink-eye from most guards/soldiers.
 
2012-12-16 11:22:47 AM

aagrajag: krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

I thought Americans were not permitted to visit. How did you manage it?


Americans have been allowed to visit for a few years to attend the Mass Games. In just the past year or two, they've opened up such that Americans can visit year round, even when there is no Mass Games performance. All visitors, not just Americans, have to go on an organized tour with an authorized tour company. You can arrange for independent tours, or go on a group tour. The application process is really easy. I decided to go with Beijing based Koryo Tours. I wired them a deposit, and emailed a copy of my passport & some documents stating I was not a journalist. That was enough for them to get my DPRK visa. I arranged my own travel to Beijing and met up with Koryo the day before we flew into Pyongyang. They held a pre tour briefing and collected any outstanding money owed. The next day, I went back to their office and we piled into a bus headed to the Beijing airport and got on a flight to Pyongyang.

Once you land in Pyongyang, they confiscate cell phones, and anything with GPS (you get it all back on departure). They also check to make sure you're not bringing in any sensitive literature. Once you get past immigration, you meet up with your two Korean guides from the state travel agency. They are with you basically 24 hours a day and ensure you don't do anything that would get you or them into trouble. They were fantastic guides and really friendly. Visiting DPRK is perfectly safe. As long as you follow the rules, there's nothing to worry about - and you always know exactly what is expected of you as a visitor.
 
2012-12-16 11:22:56 AM
North Korea photos by flickr user Kernbessier. He has been taking photos nearly everyday for the past 6 years from inside North Korea and posting them here.
 
2012-12-16 11:25:10 AM
I recommend Escape From Camp 14 for anyone curious about about the less traveled parts of North Korea.
 
2012-12-16 11:26:44 AM

krhn: Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.


Thanks for sharing. Did you get the feeling you weren't seeing everything? We're you able to go to rural areas?
 
2012-12-16 11:30:37 AM

NutWrench: Here's a link I've posted a few times about an American teacher living in in South Korea, who travels to North Korea with a group of tourists for the Arirang Festival. Lot's of pictures and he also speaks fluent Korean, which made his trip even more interesting. "Journey into Kimland"


I've been posting that same link since the mid 2000s. He was one of the first to go, before the vice guys, before the news people. Highly recommended because he does speak Korean and gets details other foreigners might not.
 
2012-12-16 11:33:22 AM

krhn: Took a ton of photos while there:


I went through the entire set. Awesome. And the shots of the JSA were especially good. Those are the soldiers you don't EVER want to fark around with.
 
2012-12-16 11:38:32 AM

FriarReb98: Picture #7 would make pre-Internet me all sorts of happy.

\remember when that qualified as "porn" to a 13 year old?


Yes. Yes I do. (Slightly NSFW if your work does not allow nipples)
 
2012-12-16 11:39:29 AM

SnarfVader: Very interesting find. I did not expect the pictures to be so colorful.


Best Korea changed from Black and White to Color about 2 years ago.
It was an expensive project and caused mass food shortages.
 
2012-12-16 11:40:03 AM

ElLoco: They are the 1%.


And this is how life really is in the United States..

blog.regentjet.com
www.gtspirit.com
 
2012-12-16 11:40:43 AM

krhn: Once you land in Pyongyang, they confiscate cell phones, and anything with GPS (you get it all back on departure).


Yeah, but since there is an import ban, do the Best Koreans take your cell phones, GPS's and dissect them to try and backwards engineer them? Or do they give you back a fake knock off of your device?
 
2012-12-16 11:42:14 AM
i show you big western dong. you rikey

www.japantimes.co.jp
 
2012-12-16 11:42:23 AM
Sanitized for your protection.
 
2012-12-16 11:42:39 AM

krhn: aagrajag: krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

I thought Americans were not permitted to visit. How did you manage it?

Americans have been allowed to visit for a few years to attend the Mass Games. In just the past year or two, they've opened up such that Americans can visit year round, even when there is no Mass Games performance. All visitors, not just Americans, have to go on an organized tour with an authorized tour company. You can arrange for independent tours, or go on a group tour. The application process is really easy. I decided to go with Beijing based Koryo Tours. I wired them a deposit, and emailed a copy of my passport & some documents stating I was not a journalist. That was enough for them to get my DPRK visa. I arranged my own travel to Beijing and met up with Koryo the day before we flew into Pyongyang. They held a pre tour briefing and collected any outstanding money owed. The next day, I went back to their office and we piled into a bus headed to the Beijing airport and got on a flight to Pyongyang.

Once you land in Pyongyang, they confiscate cell phones, and anything with GPS (you get it all back on departure). They also check to make sure you're not bringing in any sensitive literature. Once you get past immigration, you meet up with your two Korean guides from the state travel agency. They are with you basically 24 hours a day and ensure you don't do anything that would get you or them into trouble. They were fantastic guides and really friendly. Visiting DPRK is perfectly safe. As long as you follow the rules, there's nothing to worry about - and you always know exactly what is expected of you as a visitor.


Looks like it was a great trip - thanks for the pics. Where where all the people at? I was looking at the pics of the city and it looks deserted, no cars and very little foot traffic. Was it early on a Sunday morning? (I like that one you took of that group of cops - that one cop was giving you a pretty hard look, lol.)
 
2012-12-16 11:44:18 AM
I kinda want to play the original Mercenaries now....

/good times...
 
2012-12-16 11:47:19 AM

whatshisname: krhn: Much of DPRK is grey and dreary like you'd expect, but there's a surprising amount of color, often in places you would not expect.

Thanks for sharing. Did you get the feeling you weren't seeing everything? We're you able to go to rural areas?


I was most definitely not seeing everything. The DPRK government's strength over its people rests with its ability to control information being imported and exported from the country. The tours are designed to highlight only the best aspects of DPRK, so that people leave with mostly positive stories and photos. To be fair, there's a lot of wonderful things in DPRK, but you always get the sense that you're not getting the complete picture. There's no ability to deviate from the approved tour itinerary, and the guides are constantly checking in with the office to validate that stops on the tour are still OK to visit.

For the most part, the trip was concentrated in Pyongyang. We were able to see one approved rural village, but you could tell it was on the itinerary because it embodied idealistic rural life. When traveling from one destination to another, you do see bits of the real rural life, but it is limited. As much as they try to present a wholly positive image of the country, there's always a bit of the real Korea showing through the cracks of the facade.

One thing that was interesting was how much military there was. All over Pyongyang, groups of 10, 20, 50+ soldiers would be together walking down the streets, or in the public spaces. They were all mostly unarmed, well dressed, and looked healthy. On a day trip from Pyongyang to the DMZ, we passed some rural areas and again saw soldiers, though this time they were wearing ratty clothing, looked on the verge of starving to death, and were digging ditches and pouring concrete. DPRK supposedly has the 4th largest standing military in the world, but I think it would be more fair to say they have the largest forced labor pool in the world. Those poor guys couldn't defend themselves on the battlefield for anything.

Pyongyang is basically where the privileged party loyalists live. They live a relatively good life compared to those living outside of Pyongyang. Life for them is probably pretty decent, at least by their standards. Life outside of Pyongyang would be very, very difficult though.
 
2012-12-16 11:48:03 AM

GregoryD: NutWrench: Here's a link I've posted a few times about an American teacher living in in South Korea, who travels to North Korea with a group of tourists for the Arirang Festival. Lot's of pictures and he also speaks fluent Korean, which made his trip even more interesting. "Journey into Kimland"

I've been posting that same link since the mid 2000s. He was one of the first to go, before the vice guys, before the news people. Highly recommended because he does speak Korean and gets details other foreigners might not.


I've read it several times before and I'm reading it all over again. It's fascinating.
 
2012-12-16 11:48:41 AM
What? You mean something else isn't as horrible or wonderful as I imagined but is more in the middle? Why does this keep happening to me?
 
2012-12-16 11:50:16 AM
Hmmm. Unicorn thread?
 
2012-12-16 11:52:14 AM

shinjitsuism: krhn: Once you land in Pyongyang, they confiscate cell phones, and anything with GPS (you get it all back on departure).

Yeah, but since there is an import ban, do the Best Koreans take your cell phones, GPS's and dissect them to try and backwards engineer them? Or do they give you back a fake knock off of your device?


Hah... no, my stuff was returned back to me in perfect working order.

While in DPRK, you definitely notice that much of the country is running on tech that is several decades old. The sanctions and bans have had a very real impact on the country.
 
2012-12-16 11:54:30 AM
Huh. Doesn't look like the 3rd world hell hole we're all taught about. Neither do the flickr or tumblr pictures I've come across. Just people going about their lives.
 
2012-12-16 11:55:57 AM
WOLVERINES
 
2012-12-16 11:58:36 AM
Hand picked photos of the CAPITAL of North Korea. How about venturing OUTSIDE (which they would have been shot for doing), and photograph the rest of North Korea?
The best photo of North Korea, is the one taken AT NIGHT.
Well, at least you could get a good view of the stars LOL.

www.newscientist.com
 
2012-12-16 12:00:33 PM

Ficoce: krhn: aagrajag: krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.

Looks like it was a great trip - thanks for the pics. Where where all the people at? I was looking at the pics of the city and it looks deserted, no cars and very little foot traffic. Was it early on a Sunday morning? (I like that one you took of that group of cops - that one cop was giving you a pretty h ...


There are very few cars in DPRK. On the busiest of roads, only one or two cars would pass by in span of 60 seconds. Many of the streets were largely devoid of people of people too, though you do you see a lot of people in certain areas - subways, parks, public monuments, and some of the streets. The Koreans are almost always in groups, so if you see one person, you'll see dozens. The photos may be a little misleading as we were largely discouraged from taking photos of people, so many of my photos don't have any in them.
 
2012-12-16 12:04:32 PM

krhn: I visited North Korea for vacation this past September.


Was the drinking water safe or was it like Mexico?
 
2012-12-16 12:07:10 PM
North Korea has some of the best energy conservation programs on Earth. They have an entire infrastructure that uses essentially none. Compared to South Korea there isn't even a comparison in green energy technology. North Korea is the best.
 
2012-12-16 12:12:17 PM
me so horny

www.japantimes.co.jp 

/sorry
 
2012-12-16 12:12:51 PM
i141.photobucket.com
 
2012-12-16 12:15:28 PM
The fellow in the first pic is wearing a very stylish Easter hat...
 
2012-12-16 12:31:57 PM
That's a lot of reading for a sub with " photo" in the title.... Don't you think?
 
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