Fascinating Instagram Photos from Inside North Korea

While on assignment in North Korea, Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia David Guttenfelder had the opportunity to snap shots on his iPhone and iPod Touch and share them through Instagram. This would be a first for anyone to directly post their geotagged photos to the app from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The photographer explains: “On Jan. 18, 2013, foreigners were allowed for the first time to bring mobile phones into North Korea. And this week the local service provider, Koryolink, is allowing foreigners to access the Internet on a data capable 3G connection on our mobile phones. In the past I could post geolocated phone photos to my Instagram feed by turning my online laptop into a hotspot to link my iPhone or iPod touch by wifi. But, today I'm posting this directly from my phone while riding in the back of a van in #Pyongyang. The window on to North Korea has opened another crack. Meanwhile, for Koreans here who will not have access to the same service, the window remains shut.”

The photographer's stay in Pyongyang, North Korea (his 20th trip to the country) has just recently ended, but his captured images live on and provide insight to this part of the world that we hardly ever get to see from the inside. Guttenfelder says, “I feel I can help open a window into a place that would otherwise rarely be seen by outsiders. As one of the few international photographers who has ever had regular access to the country, I feel a huge responsibility to share what I see and to show it as accurately as I can.”

Top photo: A group of children play with one of Guttenfelder's cameras.

A view of Pyongyang, North Korea from the photographer's hotel.

“North Koreans ride an escalator past a model of the country's Unha-3 rocket as they enter an exhibition in #Pyongyang of #Kimjongilia flowers named after the late leader Kim Jong Il.”

“A North Korean doctor and a bank of video monitors inside a #Pyongyanghospital.”

“North Korean babies rest in a row of cribs at the #Pyongyang Maternity Hospital.”

“A surreal mass synchronized swimming performance in #Pyongyang, North Korea tonight.”

“A North Korean guide uses a pointer at the start of a tour of an historic site.”

Students working on computers in their winter coats and hats at a massive library called The Grand People's Study House.

“The yet to be completed 105-story pyramid shaped Ryugyong Hotel can be seen from about anywhere you stand in Pyongyang. The North Koreans started building it around 1987.”

“The huge planetarium that looks like Saturn called the Three Revolution Exhibition Hall.”

“North Korean commuters pass by propaganda posters in #Pyongyang.”

“Painted #Propaganda, showing North Korean children in armed services uniforms attacking U.S., Japanese & SKorean soldiers, hangs in a room inside a#Pyongyang kindergarten.”

“Charicatures of American and Japanese solders are stored in a room at Kaeson Kindergarten in #Pyongyang. Children throw things at the faces and pretend to shoot or bayonette them with toy guns during a schoolyard game.”

“Example haircuts on display at a barbershop in #Pyongyang.”

“The highway, heading south to #Pyongyang, North Korea. Four lanes wide and few cars to be found.”

“A restaurant in the Hyangsan Hotel at the foot of Mt. Myohyang, North Korea. We're the only guests in this hotel.”

“A pin over the heart of every North Korean citizen.”

David Guttenfelder website
David Guttenfelder on Instagram
via [Storify, Instagram Blog]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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