Next week I return to the mostly frigid conditions of Pyongyang and the regions around the infamous “Central City”. This trip is marked by political turmoil and what appears to be another extended winter, with freezing conditions at night and a chilled air in the daytime. Will the skies be gray and filled with a dwindled sense of hope after international sanctions, or will it be the same happy and bustling place I experienced during the jovial 100th anniversary festival last year?
My expectations lean toward the former. This is one of the more turbulent periods in the North’s history, and I don’t know if there’s going to be the same charm I experienced the first time around.
But what I am excited about is the opportunities that accompany this trip. A major focus for me is the creation of new media out of the country to further cast a light on the people of the North, and this can be done through film and photo. Challenges include the same issues I faced last time, namely working with limited production equipment and trying to edit together a video when it’s all finished. However, with new lenses and hopefully better audio equipment, I aim to make this project a bit higher quality.
As usual, I am hearing a lot of negative feedback from friends and family, as North Korea is not your typical destination, and most wonder why I would choose to ‘vacation’ in such a place. The truth is that this is not a vacation. While I really enjoy being an adventurer, I am trying to do some type of work that I hope somewhere, somehow, pays off – whether through increasing awareness of the plight of North Koreans or perhaps even to eventually help fund an existing charity.
Personal, Mental Notes:
– Bring more backup camera batteries this time.
– Fill out my antibiotic prescription and take it with me. Last time I lucked out, but eating North Korean food can be a gamble. However, it’s still not as bad as Thai street food.
– Be thankful I can walk. I broke my leg almost 5 months ago now. It’s still harder to walk up stairs and do certain movements, but I am mostly healed.
– If I can find a second digital polaroid between now and tomorrow, that’d be great. Jordan’s was a big hit last time, and it’s needed to help lighten the mood, especially if I am trying to take portrait style pictures of locals.
– Keep some pictures on my cam from Arizona to show my guide and others who have maybe never seen / heard of saguaros before.
On the 6th of April I’ll be back in the USA, and I’ll begin the process of unloading all of the media produced from within the DPRK. Stay tuned.