In North Korea you’ll find everyone: farmers, nurses, fishermen, secretaries, school kids with blue-buttons and red handkerchief uniforms, traffic police, sellers, librarians, old people and young people. People in North Korea are like people in most other countries with one crucial difference: everybody looks like they’re still in the late 1940’s.
Our tour, as amazing as it was, gave us the chance to see quite a lot in fact. From the capital Pyongyang to remote countryside villages it’s outstanding how things, impressions, reactions and even reality change dramatically, from the city where everything seems so perfectly in order and sometimes even staged to the most remote village where most people have never seen a tourist before and showed us the sincerest kindness and welcome. Why do I say this? Simply because of the look in their face:
As we toured around on our bus, my taking photos was limited so most of my shots come from my bus windows. Not too bad I have to say, it was funny to see how most of us were so thrilled to capture every moment that everyone kept their cameras focused on the windows the whole time.
It is not rare to say that people were either sceptical of us foreigners or instructed to act as such. Many theories flew the air within my group on how much of what we saw was genuine, what parts were actually staged. It is not an uncommon thought when referring to North Korea. The most prominent theory was the following: in the capital, people have a certain knowledge of the outside world, even certain access to media restricted to the elites. The countryside instead, are completely oblivious of international events and people.
People in The Capital
Our time in Pyongyang focused on visiting monuments, statues, museums, libraries and even the maternity hospital. People I found there looked at us with caution, indifference or very little attention. It’s not a city where locals would pile to see foreigners. Sometimes we could perceive some fear, and considering the propaganda they live with every day, it makes sense
On the Pyongyang subway, with wagons coming all the way from post-war Germany. Not a word from locals
The Grand People’s Study House is the city library and one of the most famous buildings. Built in 1982 in honor of Kim Il-Sung 70th birthday, is today a huge study building where we saw people taking classes of art, science, IT, history. Because of the locals’ attitude, some of my group said it was all staged and prepared in advance before our coming.
A young man using an old cellphone model (probably a Nokia 6220), and as I said earlier 3G is accessible in DPRK. It is sometimes available to foreigners, although this policy changes very often.
People in The Countryside
In the countryside people are friendlier, smilier, more intrigued towards us. It’s like curiosity overcomes any sort of idea or fear they might have.
Young guys working at a cinema stage in Kaesong City, they were staging the scenario for a Japanese style movie
People in North Korea are completely devoted to their leaders and their country, every museum guide we found performed their job with high devotion and completely belief towards their Leaders