The First State-Sanctioned GoPro Tour of Pyongyang, North Korea is Awesome, Eerie

This week is full of firsts from North Korea. Yesterday we shared what may be the first Google Glass coverage from inside the country, and today we have what is quite possibly the world’s first state-sanctioned city tour of Pyongyang, filmed using a GoPro Hero 3 camera.

With special permission granted by the DPRK government, Singaporean photographer Aram Pan captured 22 minutes of footage, all of which is presented in its original format, unedited and uncensored, above.


Between the length of the video and geographical distance covered, this is one of the most comprehensive looks we’ve ever seen of the DPRK capital, and it gives us a pretty good look at some of the more public parts of the city.

The video seems rather ethereal at times, because for such a large city, there’s almost zero advertising (excluding propaganda), zero trash, and with but a few exceptions, the streets are empty. It’s a decently long watch, so you might have to save this one for when you get home, but be sure to give the full video a watch when you can.

  • Jeremiah True

    Eerie is a good way to put it, between the sound of the wind and lack of much other human noise, it is the quietest and cleanest city I could imagine driving through. Thanks for sharing.

    Not for nothing but I wish that they had put a GPS overlay on this so we could see what parts of the city they were driving through.

  • cacamilisseacht

    Very interesting video, it’s such a quiet, clean and relatively lifeless city, I can’t help but be fascinated by it, it’s like the Truman Show. I just feel sorry for the millions of malnourished, and starving people that live outside the capital that have to resort to eating grass to survive.

    It’s also strange considering hardly any photos good or bad were let out of the country a few years it, the great dictator is working on propaganda for the rest of the world now it seems

  • pgb0517

    I wonder what goes on in all those skyscrapers, given the lack of comings and goings at street level. Or was this taken on a work holiday?

  • Sultan A-s

    What I’d do to have 24hr access to all those empty streets, a few drift cars, a bunch of wheels, lots of gas and my camera equipment.
    Oh lord <3 A man can only dream.

  • Gannon Burgett

    The Truman Show comparison is one that comes up constantly and one that nails it spot on. Everything just seems (and for the most part is) staged.

  • ScarlettFeverr

    Anybody else noticed how much this looks like Irvine, CA?

  • Matt Smart

    Interesting video. I have lived in China for the past 4 years and traveled to the DPRK for a week (Probably a similar tour to the photographers). I’m sure Beijing could learn something from Pyongyang. The roads are clean, it’s a lot greener and there’s a blue sky. Sadly a rarity these days.
    @JeremiahTrue:disqus A google maps route could be pretty simple. The tour starts at the Yanggakdo Hotel. and heads north over the bridge to the west.

  • Volodya53

    I like to open the window late at night either at the Yanggakdo or the Koryo hotel and listen to the sounds of the city. From 2am to 4am there is so little noise you can hear a dog bark a mile away. In recent years there was more noise as the construction picked up. One thing I did like was to see the stars. In the city you can see the stars with great clarity.

  • Guest

    No traffic light? only a officer standing on the street? (At 3:30)

  • Guest

    Very interesting video. There’s so much to it. The lack of traffic, human noise (or human interaction, everyone are just walking) and also, the lack of advertisement. There’s nothing.

  • Mark Davidson

    There was a red light at about 19 min as the bus ran through it…

  • Sam_Mallery

    I wonder if it was the dude’s low-profile Blackout GoPro housing that made the Korean officials say “…well, okay. What the heck.”

  • Raymond Larose

    What impressed me is everyone fortunate enough to own a car (or drive a bus) actually used their directionals. Man, in the states it seems like no one does anymore. Drives me nuts. This video was pretty cool to watch. Like others said, the lack of filth and billboards is amazing. The lack of smiling faces is disturbing though.

  • Chang He

    The unfortunate part of this is the fact that the regime is using it as propaganda, telling their people that others come from all over the world to marvel at our achievements. And every little bit of strength provided to that mass murdering madman keeps hundreds of thousands of people in prison for thought crime, and millions enslaved to his brutish regime.

  • Chang He

    Because everyone who steps out of line is in jail, starving to death with their entire family.

  • Chang He

    It’s all for show. Most of the skyscrapers are empty.

  • Chang He

    And it’s all propaganda.

  • pgb0517

    That’s what I was wondering. Like the “ghost cities” of China?

  • Chang He

    Except that China has real cities as well. :-)

  • pgb0517

    Well, let’s see … Beijing is dirty, but that is because it has industry and commerce, and at least some of its people can actually eat and go to work and buy stuff. I’m not defending China at all. It’s got horrible human rights problems. But if all you took away from this disturbing video is that the roads and sky are clean and the grass is green … wow.

  • slyman

    seems very dull. can’t complain about the lack of advertisements.

  • Daniel De Felippis

    If all you took away is how clean it looks, the propaganda is working on you

  • BrianTheB

    A fur windscreen is your friend.

  • Mike Chua

    no kidding? they really built them and leave them empty?

  • Mike Chua

    it’s an utopia. so yeah, surreal it is.

  • Chang

    They do. Look up the article by Bradley K. Martin in the Boston Globe, from August 12, 2012 for a good introduction.