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Photo Essay: North Korea By Raytoei


I went to North Korea recently because I wanted to go somewhere unconventional (2011 was Afghanistan).
I went with a tour group with a good mix of Chinese and European tourists.


North Korea is a fascinating place, the air is fresh, there are no overweight citizens there, and the clothes and hairdo are very early ’80s.
Our tour group was managed by 2 tour guides, one for Chinese tourist and one for the English speaking tourists. Everything is monitored in the DPRK, only the state issues hand phones for official business, we were not allowed to bring in our hand phones and had to leave it at the tour agency in China.


People we encountered (not the guides) there were generally friendly and proud of the official Juche ideology. My photos show people going about on a weekend (Fri – Mon) engaging in weekend activities like sports, visiting relatives, strolling in the park, and doing drills. I brought one body and one lens, the Leica M9 and the 50 Summicron.
I am a B&W film shooter but didn’t want to risk my rolls of Fuji film being confiscated, it was easier to hide the SD-Cards. My DSLR traveling companions had some of their pictures deleted as the 24-200 zoom was a bit too conspicuous. Without a zoom, i really had to go close to the subject, some of them I shot from the side at hip level.


All of the photos were shot in B&W, and in JPG 10MP, post-processed by adding toning, vignetting, contrasts and a generous helping of grain.


Photographer: Raytoei

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