North Korea from a Western Perspective

North Korea from a Western Perspective

After working to get permission to bring a camera into North Korea for over a year, Charlie Crane finally did make his trip, camera in hand, back in 2007. Cell phone confiscated and accompanied by two 'guides' throughout his stay, Crane knew he wouldn't get what he necessarily hoped to get. So he did the next best thing and shot exactly what they wanted him to. The resulting images are an astonishing work that launched his career into the spotlight.
This work was published in Crane's book, Welcome to Pyonyang, first published in 2007.


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thegoldfi's picture

this is phenomenal. i love projects like this because it shows the beauty of things we are supposed to view as not beautiful, and also serves as an educational too.

Excellent series of images.....the emotional desolation and the regimes attempts to stifle the human spirit come through here in a way that the written word often fails.

The Sorcerer's picture

MY heart feels as if its hurts after seeing their expressions. Their eyes have something else to say. the times I feel I am lucky to be born in this country and one who can live a decent lifestyle.

Patrick C N Wong's picture

I doubt they'll feel it. There has nothing to compair from their media

napoleon bonaparte's picture

they live a decent lifestyle, just not under your standards. I would like to compare these photos to ones taken in Detroit and we would see the difference

Thatcher Kelley's picture

It looks like post zombie-apocalypse (after the cleanup of course) and maybe the straight-faced people are the remaining zombies?

Humza Mehbub's picture

wow! Just look at N.Korea ! How simply clean and simplistic it looks - like no one roams or streets or so!
Fantastic photographs

You know whats happening over there right??

Chris Popely's picture

Well that's that decided. I'll be staying at home this summer then...

jniz22's picture

im not exactly sure what is meant by this... im sure it's in humor, but it would make me sad to think this would discourage you from getting out of your country. Even with the negative in many places in the world, the positives are there if you look hard enough (i suppose this is more true as a tourist or traveller opposed to being "stuck" in certain places

Jonty Sexton's picture

Don't take yourself so seriously jniz22. Chis made a very witty comment.

Excellent reportage photography, by the way.

jniz22's picture

Exactly why I said ... Im sure this in humor as a disclaimer. Your average American would have said that sincerely. Sorry :)

Chris Popely's picture

It's a good job I'm English then, jniz22, birthplace of the art of being facetious. :-P

jniz22's picture

Ahhhhh England... I have heard of this city... You guys win this round although, I will say sarcasm, accents and inflection are often lost in text:p. all aside, these images are intriguing and I'd love to know more of
The methodology.

Stefan Parol's picture

wait a minute... we have exactly the same Subway Trains from the late 60s/early 70s in Munich, only they are white+blue. No mistake!

Bea C's picture

There's something subversive in finding beauty in the faces and places of people we are taught to despise. Beautiful--reminds me of Polidori's landscapes, but with actual people in them. Sometimes, traveling to foreign landscapes requires a surrender of control, and therefore epiphanies...

at least the lies in america are a bit more animated, lol

Seriously, this looks like soviet union from 60s or 70s or some time ago during cold war

Alexander Saenen's picture

I think this is really good. I think the lack of expression tells us so much about the regime and the facade people have to keep up on a daily basis. Also I have a tech question. I'm quite sure this was shot on film but still can anyone tell me or refer me to a good tutorial on how to get these nice pastel colours?

David Fitzpatrick's picture

I travelled to many of these same places in 2010. Unless he identified himself as a journalist, I don't see why Charlie would have problems bringing in a camera - they are not banned. You just have to only take photos of things that are approved, and theoretically your photos can be screened on exit. All of these photos would be approved as they are in staged environments. That said they are pretty good photos!

Jean-Paul H's picture

I was wondering exactly the same thing - I took my camera with me on my trip this year and encountered no difficulties.

Jens Marklund's picture

It's probably not as discrete when you're bringing a 4x5 camera and a big ass tripod. Seems like he was there to photograph, and made it pretty apparent.

Mike Thacker's picture

I like how the washed out, desaturated colors add to the overall composition. It adds to the feeling of isolation along with the subjects being swallowed up by the regimented lines of their environment.

Bruce Leevscheese's picture

Perfectionism is a sign of deep insecurity.

Evil regime.

Matthieu Hebert's picture

One word came to my mind.... Isolation
Pretty solid work there...

Zhivko Slaveykov Petrov's picture

DamN! So artificial so ... fake. So dead. No life in these pictures at all. It's scary. I mean the pictures by themselves are of great quality and the photography is perfect but ... everything in them is horrible. Its creepy.

The Reverend Prozac's picture

The cold dead monotony of a socialist utopia.