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10 fascinating Instagram photos from North Korea

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Associated press photographer David Guttenfelder's Instagram reveals life inside North Korea.

North Korea has been slow to allow its residents to use the technology that defines everyday life in most of the world. Last week, the notoriously secretive country started to allow foreigners  to freely use a 3G mobile network from inside North Korean borders. This means that tourists and visiting professionals alike are now Tweeting and Instagramming from Pyongyang. Locals, on the other hand, still have limited access. 

The photos coming out of North Korea since the restrictions were lifted are a revealing insight into a nation that is completely unknown to most foreigners. Instagram's function as a spontaneous image sharing platform allows visitors to share their North Korean experience as it happens - presenting a raw feed of images that have not had the chance to be framed in the context of reflection.

The most notable Instagrammers in North Korea are Associated Press journalists Jean Lee and David Guttenfelder. Since news of North Korea's change of 3G policy, their Instagram accounts have been featured on NPR and promoted by Instagram in its blog. Sharing photos under the hashtags #pyongyang, #drnk, and #northkorea, the journalists have presented life inside North Korea. We rounded up 10 of our favorites from the feeds of Lee (@newsjean) and Guttenfelder (@dguttenfelder).

1. Syncronized skater perform for a not-so packed arena

The seats in this stadium are relatively vacant, though that can be said of most ice shows in the US as well.

2. Colorful propoganda posters stand out in a grey winter

Commuters dressed in all black walk by colorful posters on a grey day.

3. Traffic cop in blue and fur on a Pyongyang street

What North Korea lacks in civil liberties, it seems to make up for in fabulous police uniforms.

4. A newlywed couple bows to statues of late leaders

North Korean brides wear bright colors on their wedding day.

5. Babies and nurses in a hospital

Guttenfelder's visit to a Pyongyang hospital revealed life in the maternity ward.

6. The display of a dress shop

The style of ladies' clothing is reminiscent of "Mad Men" fashion in the US.

7. The bleak winter countryside north of Pyongyang

The photos currently coming out of North Korea are blanketed in a grey fog from the winter weather.

8. Model rockets near an escalator

This display was put up to honor the late Kim Jong Il as well as North Korea's rocket launch.

9. People bring brooms to sweep monuments of leaders

Mansu Hill features large statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

10. Boys play with Guttenfeilder's camera

With Mansu Hill's statues in the background, a young boy plays with one of Guttenfelder's cameras.

Comments

Total comments: 29
Seraphim71
By Seraphim71 (Apr 21, 2013)

Please don't forget, the real reason for the fury and anger in North Korea is that the US has been engaged in aggressive military maneuvers with the South Koreans off the Korean coast for exactly 3 years now without let up. You will never hear that on tv...plus the aggressive naval patrols along the coastline is not helping matters.

0 upvotes
Photog74
By Photog74 (Mar 12, 2013)

These photos are anything but fascinating. If you want to see some truly interesting shots from that country, take a look at the North Korean themed photosets in Moravius's Flickr stream:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kernbeisser/sets/?&page=1

Some of his images are truly fascinating indeed. Alas, they don't have the "hip factor" of being shot on a camera phone (I think most of them were captured with a Sony digital SLR camera).

1 upvote
Duckie
By Duckie (8 months ago)

Good link!

0 upvotes
Brian_Smith
By Brian_Smith (Mar 5, 2013)

No Dennis Rodman?

1 upvote
Deleted pending purge
By Deleted pending purge (Mar 5, 2013)

Seems like it's still 1947th there... :(

0 upvotes
PhD4
By PhD4 (Mar 5, 2013)

Who forgot to look up the word "fascinating" ?

3 upvotes
wlachan
By wlachan (Mar 5, 2013)

Everything looks grey.

0 upvotes
rurikw
By rurikw (Mar 5, 2013)

"Technology that defines everyday life"?! Now not even North Korea provides a refuge from that!

1 upvote
SeeRoy
By SeeRoy (Mar 5, 2013)

I feel confident that The Young General always makes the correct decisions in the interests of His People. I see this as continuing the implementation of Juche as pioneered by his predecessors - The Dear Leader and of course The Great Leader, Kim Il Sung. The recent visit to the PRK of the notable American intellectual sports star Dennis Rodman shows us that the Young General is eager to share his nation's cultural wealth with less fortunate countries.

3 upvotes
gwales
By gwales (Mar 5, 2013)

Cultural wealth - thank god! Now if only they could eat it.

3 upvotes
ryansholl
By ryansholl (Mar 5, 2013)

gwales, you have made my day. I cannot like your comment enough.

1 upvote
luigibozi
By luigibozi (Mar 5, 2013)

http://photoblog.nbcnews.com/_news/2011/12/19/9564314-satellites-document-north-koreas-dark-ages?lite

Is South Korea an island?!
Lucky journalists, there is a Sun that enabled them to take these images.

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
tinternaut
By tinternaut (Mar 13, 2013)

Clearly, the DPRK is fully prepared to deal resolutely with the imperialist Americans and their stooges in the South.

0 upvotes
MaleManGuy
By MaleManGuy (Mar 5, 2013)

The pictures are awesome. Have you seen the ryugyong hotel? It is 105 stories in height and looks like a warhead. lol. I been to China... Asia's is amazing.

0 upvotes
luigibozi
By luigibozi (Mar 5, 2013)

kitsch-y

0 upvotes
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Mar 5, 2013)

The photos are great except #1 but the American/foreign comments next to them just shows ignorance and some blunt hostility.

At #1, if they had used a DSLR you'd be able to tell the skaters are actually male and female.

0 upvotes
Ken Phillips
By Ken Phillips (Mar 5, 2013)

You will generally find blunt hostility toward a foreign leader that wants to destroy you.

1 upvote
huyzer
By huyzer (Mar 5, 2013)

I like #6, "The style of ladies' clothing is reminiscent of "Mad Men" fashion in the US."

0 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (Mar 5, 2013)

Never was a fan of the instagram craze (to say the least), but at least these pictures are relevant to our times and intriguing, so thanks, I guess!

1 upvote
DeFinitive
By DeFinitive (Mar 5, 2013)

Just as I thought, no photos of the gulags, how controlled are these photos and then we see comments of "I'd love to go there"!

1 upvote
Peiasdf
By Peiasdf (Mar 5, 2013)

I am still waiting for Iraqi WMD photos as well but after 10 years I kinda gave up.

1 upvote
DeFinitive
By DeFinitive (Mar 5, 2013)

Maybe Iraq didn't have WMD but Nth Korea has gulags, as seen from satellite images. Have a read at "Escape From Camp 14", this will give you a better insight into Nth Korea.

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 5, 2013)

DeFinitive,

Not to contradict your point, because Gulags are terrible, but when is the last time you saw prisons in a photo essay of the U.S.? I mean, if Nat Geo does a photo spread on Colorado, do we get the state and federal prisons thrown in the bargain?

[EDIT: And if we don't see state and federal prisons in photo essays of the U.S., do you call the pictures "controlled"?]

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Phil Askey
By Phil Askey (Mar 5, 2013)

http://instagram.com/developer/embedding/

1 upvote
Jahled
By Jahled (Mar 5, 2013)

Pyongyang is an odd place for any person to go to to. That's it really

0 upvotes
happypoppeye
By happypoppeye (Mar 5, 2013)

I would love to go there...

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Mar 5, 2013)

I'd love to go there too. But unlike America, they threaten the rest of the world with nuclear weapons.

1 upvote
hassannabeel
By hassannabeel (Mar 5, 2013)

And america just fires nuclear weapons on rest of the world

2 upvotes
PhD4
By PhD4 (Mar 5, 2013)

They do ?!

0 upvotes
Total comments: 29
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