The First Instagram Photos from Inside North Korea


Yesterday, Instagram announced that it had reached an impressive 100 million users, but the Instagram news making headlines today is only concerned with a select few of those.

That’s because those select few, including the AP’s David Guttenfelder and Jean Lee, have begun uploading the first ever Instagram photos from inside North Korea — giving us an intimate glimpse at daily life inside the very closed off country.


Featured today on the Instagram blog, AP Chief Photographer for Asia David Guttenfelder is, in his own words, “opening a window into a place that would otherwise rarely be seen by outsiders.”

Although photographers have had access to North Korea before, this is the first we’re seeing real-time photos being uploaded to Instagram. Up until a few weeks ago, most foreigners weren’t even allowed to bring mobile phones into the country. And if you did somehow sneak your iPhone in, you more than likely had no access to wireless data.


Now that both of those things have changed, AP photographers such as Guttenfelder and Lee have begun sharing the “curious, strangely beautiful, or melancholy details around us here.” Be sure to visit and follow Guttenfelder’s and Lee’s Instagram pages to browse through their photos and watch as more upload in real-time.

(via Doobybrain)

Update: As commenter Ubinam_Rosarium kindly pointed out, these are some of the first, but certainly not the first Instagram photos to be posted from North Korea. Instagram user Drew Kelly has been uploading photos for about a year now.

  • Leonardo Abreu


  • Jo

    I actually like North Korea ..not sure why people are so surprised when they hear something about NK..kudos to them for standing up to the US

  • Cami Donohue

    And this, right here, is a prime example of the power of photography. Incredible.

  • David Calleja

    I actually like you. You sound like someone that is educated about world affairs. Kudos to you for educating yourself.

  • Aleksandar Aleksić

    and you look like you are not educated about world affairs. no kudos for you.

  • Zos Xavius

    what’s too like? oppressive regime? total poverty and starvation due oppressive regime’s poor decisions that are purely self serving? complete censorship and isolation from the rest of the world? Yeah. Finding it rather hard to see the positive here…..

  • Zos Xavius

    Also NK is not “standing up” to the US. It is rattling sabers that are purely hollow. We know it and they know we know it. The whole thing is a sham and we are foolish for playing into it which is exactly what they want. Its all manipulation. Even with nuclear weapons they are no real threat as any action against the free world would be suicide. The china/taiwan dilemma is much more destabilizing actually.

  • Radhey

    and ^^ you definitely seems over educated, so no Kudos for you either.

  • kevin

    You sound like as if your country don’t have poverty and starving homeless. Sanction is censorship of your own people and company from contacting NoKor. Get the facts straight.

  • Kevin

    When is US invading NoKor like Iraq that didn’t have nukes. Have you been sleeping last 10 years? Your poor cannot even have a chance in court if there is no money to higher a good lawyer. POT CALLING KETTEL BLACK. How many bombs did NoKor drop on citizens in Afgan and Iraq??? FREE WORLD does NOT want be represented by USA or any other war promoters.

  • Zos Xavius

    Right, so we should embrace a country that has declared war on us, with leadership that remains hostile towards the west. So we should lift sanctions and let NK prosper and spend all their money on weapons while making hostile motions towards south korea who is our ally? What facts do I have wrong? I’m sure the people of NK would like some positive change, and I think sanctioning ultimately punishes them which is sad (same with Iraq). There needs to be a sea change and without either side backing down, it won’t likely happen until one of the two regimes crumble. FWIW, north korea makes soviet russia look rather pleasant in comparison if you ask me.

  • Zos Xavius

    North Korea attacking South Korea is a very real possibility. Unless we abandon our treaties with South Korea, the United States would have an obligation to become involved again. The iraqis killed far more people than we ever did there. The united states built up saddam hussein and he turned around and became an aggressor in the middle east. How many people did he kill himself? The united states has been playing chess with various states for decades. I don’t blame a lot of the world for hating us. I don’t see were our court system has anything to do with all of this, but its true that the US is very oppressive itself in a lot of ways. If we lift sanctions and NK starts generating cash again, it will just spend it all on weapons. That’s the problem to me. There aren’t any good answers really. They are a sizable threat to the region where we have several allies. Ever notice how all the countries that are openly hostile towards us are not connected to the global trade grid? That is why the world is stabilizing for what its worth. The US certainly needs to become a bit less involved and needs to stop stupid things like drone strikes against residential areas. We’ve violated the geneva convention a few times over now…..

  • kim jong il

    the most stupid comment ever

  • Gary

    So NK opens up and we get an Instagram advert? Why do we care?

  • Duke Shin

    Oh why… The one place I thought was a safe haven from Instagram…

  • Igor Ken

    and I just don’t wanna be a combo breaker, so kudos to me for being educated enough to not talk about the affairs I am not educated about.

  • Andersen

    Kudos for combo breaking this stupidity! :D

  • Jasper Verolme

    Please don’t ban Instagram great honorable leader.

  • Ubinam_Rosarium

    Um, sorry to burst y’all’s bubble I’ve been following a Westerner who is teaching in Pyongyang on Instagram since last fall. His Instagram name is “drewkelly” and he started posting from North Korea for about six months at least.