Photos from North Korea.
August 14, 2008 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Photos from North Korea. Photographs from a 2 week long trip to North Korea by photographer Eric Lafforgue.
posted by chunking express (27 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Charlie Crane has a great set of photographs from his trip to North Korea as well, which probably qualify as fine art. Sadly, his web site is all in flash, so you'll need to click around to see them.
posted by chunking express at 1:01 PM on August 14, 2008

There's something about this one. Green, possibly
posted by Mblue at 1:15 PM on August 14, 2008

"No fatties in the streets: people walk a lot, and many use bikes...and no Mc Do around!"

Well, there's the walking, biking and low-fat food, sure.

Plus, you know, rampant starvation.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:26 PM on August 14, 2008 [4 favorites]

Yeah, some of his comments are a bit on the dumb side, but i'm not sure if it's because English isn't his first language.
posted by chunking express at 1:31 PM on August 14, 2008

Plus, you know, rampant starvation.

I thought that the food problems were in the countryside, and that the urban areas were comfortably fed. Wouldn't want unrest in the city....
posted by mr_roboto at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2008

Plus, you know, rampant starvation.

Plus, you know, a beautiful subway system. The Stalinist dictatorships do public transport right.
posted by three blind mice at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2008

These kids' clothes look laundered better than anything I've ever pulled out of my Kenmore. Does the guy really think these kids are just out playing and mingling freely of their own free will?
posted by crapmatic at 1:33 PM on August 14, 2008

That subway station is awfully empty considering how many people are supposed to be using it.
posted by smackfu at 1:41 PM on August 14, 2008

Rather than repeating the (very valid) disbelief that he seems to be taking the propaganda at face value:

I'm actually so used to seeing NK photos taken that are trying to get around the Official Story, it's interesting to see what the DPRK Powers that Be want tourists to see - what the fevered dream-fantasy is, rather than the harsh reality.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:47 PM on August 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

That's why I liked the set: It's straight up tourist photography.
posted by chunking express at 1:49 PM on August 14, 2008

Thanks. Nice post, and nice photos. Kinda made me sad.
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:59 PM on August 14, 2008

I recall reading an account of one of these tourist visits. The author talked about how they were in the shrin to Kim Il-Sung, and they had to have slippers over their feet to keep from scuffing the granite floor.

They decided that it would be fun to slip and slide across the floor.

Fortunately, they weren't shot. They were given stern looks, and decided they'd rather not press their luck.

I'm fascinated with N. Korea. There's no other country in the world that I know of that's so brutal, so isolated and desolate. And yet, there's something of another time and world there that's so far removed from our modern connected world.

Has anyone seen the footage smuggled out of the villages? Of the execution in the labor camp? Horrific stuff.
posted by symbioid at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2008

There are some beautiful people in North Korea. I enjoyed the set, even if there was only one or two photos that seemed to genuinely reflect life as it might be like for regular folk.
posted by maxwelton at 2:11 PM on August 14, 2008

I don't know what is more depressing, the current state of affairs there or the likelihood that this authoritarian utopia will still be a going concern for the next generation in these pictures.

Though I guess it can be said that on an absolute scale there is less suffering in the DPRK than eg. India.
posted by yort at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2008

The legal morality requirements of authoritarian states fascinates me. Modest behavior and dress, gender association restrictions, that kind of thing.

Contrast that with the loathing of communism by fundamentalists here in the U.S., and reactionary "Love America or Leave It" by the same people who rue our "moral collapse". I find that ironic.

And as I've said before, it's all about irony.

Beautiful pictures. Really well made and composed.
posted by Xoebe at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2008 [2 favorites]

This awesome. I've always wanted to do something like this. Travel to a place like North Korea with it's totalitarian regime, and where what you're allowed to see and photograph is totally scripted. I think that what they want to portray is as important to see as what is really true. Primarily I think of it in terms of a photographic challenge where you're taken some place, and you do the best you can. There are some really great photographs in this set.
posted by Eekacat at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2008

Oh, and those Charlie Crane photos are great too. At least his Korean ones. Some of his others I don't like as much. I'm not so much into the washed out look of some of them. The portraits were really good though.

I wonder how one goes about being a tourist in North Korea, and how much it costs.
posted by Eekacat at 2:53 PM on August 14, 2008

Eekacat, the wikipedia page has some links on the bottom that might help you out...

Tourism in N. Korea
posted by symbioid at 3:06 PM on August 14, 2008

For anyone interested in daily life in North Korea (albeit what was allowed to be filmed), I highly recommend the documentary 'A State of Mind', about the lives of two young girls living in Pyongyang and practicing for the Mass Games. Netflix has it. The kids are so adorable and well loved by their nice families that the film is more fascinating than grim.
posted by tula at 3:49 PM on August 14, 2008

Fascinating stuff.

The Stalinist dictatorships do public transport right.

The stations are spectacular, and I have no doubt that it runs like a dream. But - according to a travel feature on the DPRK in Wallpaper* about six years ago - the stations mostly have abstract names, "Glory", Victory", and so on, rather than geographical or descriptive names. Which must be confusing.
posted by WPW at 4:03 PM on August 14, 2008

Lafforgue is a fine photographer, and I enjoyed seeing these immensely. Great find. Thanks for the posts, chungking.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 PM on August 14, 2008

The Stalinist dictatorships do public transport right.

i.e. "re-educating" anyone who defaces a train car.
posted by DU at 5:36 PM on August 14, 2008

I second recommending 'A State of Mind', well worth watching.
posted by mattoxic at 5:49 PM on August 14, 2008

The Stalinist dictatorships do public transport right.
Contrary to the lusciousness of many of the subway stations in Moscow, that particular station is one among the two (Puhung and Yonggwang) foreigners are allowed to see.

Also: Everything you Always Wanted to Know About the Pyongyang Metro but the Revolutionary Guardians wouldn't let you ask.
posted by _dario at 6:52 PM on August 14, 2008

There are two important things I've learned here. One is that North Korea leads the world in the production of crabonated beverages and the other is that it's probably not a great idea to cross the demarcation lime.

I imagine a sliver of lime in your crabonated beverage might be tasty, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:33 PM on August 14, 2008

I'm stationed about 8 miles south of the DMZ, in South Korea, and it's continually amazing to me the stark difference when looking over the border into areas of NK that we can see from our side. Where on our side, there's decent 30-50 year old pervasive tree growth, and the NK north of the border is nearly completely deforested.

That and the 'Freedom Village' in NK is just a joke. Concrete facades and empty buildings. I cannot imagine the hardships that normal, run-of-the-mill, non-Pyongyang residents must endure in the name of 'Great Leader'.

I've been here a couple years now and it's still just amazing.
posted by SeanMac at 3:48 AM on August 15, 2008

Thanks so much for the link. I am fascinated by North Korea and some of these photographs are just staggering.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:05 AM on August 15, 2008

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