Americans interacting with North Koreans at the subway

(Also check out my entire photo-essay at North Korea Uncloaked)

In North Korea, they kept us busy. From 7 AM until 5 PM we were shuttled to locations across Pyongyang, from monuments and museums to long expeditions across the countryside to distant cities. One of the first of many destinations in the country was the Pyongyang metro station.

We were told that this is one of the few occasions when a western tourist is in such close proximity to North Koreans, who are normally isolated from outsiders. For years, rumors have persisted that it’s almost impossible to interact with North Korean locals, and few people have ever done it.

What we found is that either our particular tour guides were exceptionally cool, or this is something of a myth. Aside from the metro station, we had plenty of other opportunities to meet the residents of the forbidden kingdom; from playing Frisbee along the docks of Wonsan to taking photos with entire schools of Korean kids.

Many of these people may have never seen westerners before. They are told from birth that Americans are the source of their woes, and the government discourages locals who are not authorized to greet foreigners. However, it’s easy to bring North Koreans out of this initial apprehension through being a bit enthusiastic and fun. They respond very well to playfulness, and you can quickly instigate huge groups of people to hang-out, play games, high-five and snap photos.

Support my work chronicling North Korea and other places in the world by becoming a citizen photo-journalist yourself and purchasing a Canon Rebel t3i from my affiliate store below, and I’ll make a tiny percentage of the sale. Buying a good DSLR was one of the best purchase decisions in my life. Even with a cheap lens, I still produce great images on the t3i because this professional grade camera has such a good sensor.

Creepy Pyongyang Loudspeakers

(This video has created some controversy in my e-mailbox. In response, please see my rant about preconceived notions of North Korea that I’ve dealt with since returning.<) George Orwell couldn't make this stuff up. Although there are nice parts of North Korea, some that I detail at my main photo-journal page North Korea Uncloaked, there is also some very creepy parts about the country as well.

These loudspeakers seem common in Pyongyang, and are used to organize rallies of troops across the mysterious city. We were looking out across the river from the massive Juche tower (Sorry about the camera shake. No tripod and my little camera moves around like a #$%#).

Imagine waking up to this every morning. Yes, I do think North Korea is absolutely dripping with evil. Although, the North Koreans themselves are surprisingly pleasant, good-natured people.

This was taken April 2012, shortly after their failed satellite / rocket launch.

Support my work chronicling North Korea and other places in the world by becoming a citizen photo-journalist yourself and purchasing a Canon Rebel t3i from my affiliate store below, and I’ll make a tiny percentage of the sale. Buying a good DSLR was one of the best purchase decisions in my life. Even with a cheap lens, I still produce great images on the t3i because this professional grade camera has such a good sensor.