Back in February, the AP’s David Guttenfelder and Jean Lee were some of the first to begin uploading Instagram photos from inside the closed off country of North Korea. A rare look inside a normally very mysterious country, both of their Instagram accounts became the subject of many a headline.
Korean-American Kenneth Bae made headlines back in November when he was arrested while leading a tour group though the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Korea. The reasons behind the arrest have never been properly confirmed, but it seems that his detainment had something to do with photos he was taking while he was spending time in the country.
No headway has been made in the case since he was taken into custody, but a recent report by the Korean Central News Agency claims that Bae has “admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple the DPRK,” and that he will now be tried in North Korean supreme court for those crimes, the maximum punishment for which is the death penalty. Read more…
Tensions are running high again on the Korean peninsula. As international observers watch closely for what move the North will play next, I thought it might be a good time to revisit some of my work from photographing in North Korea, undercover on-assignment, for the Globe & Mail in 2009.
This post is an extract from an article I contributed to the Digital Journalist the same year, recounting some of my experiences whilst photographing in this reclusive state. It was an experience I shall never forget… Read more…
In a recent Photoshop blunder, North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) was caught distributing the above doctored photo of a marine military exercise involving hovercraft. The photo, which was originally distributed to several news outlets, claimed to show the prowess of North Korea’s marine force.
It didn’t take long, however, for several news agencies to start pointing out some anomalies that all indicated the photo had been doctored. Read more…
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. Read more…
Earlier this month, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt paid a visit to North Korea with former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. Schmidt’s daughter Sophie also tagged along, and was allowed to snap photographs of things they experienced during their stay. Read more…
An American tourist traveling from Beijing, China to Pyongyang, North Korea pointed his camera out the train window to capture this rare 1-hour-long look at what North Korea looks like on the interior.
This was a propaganda tour that brings tourists to the country’s showcase cities and most fertile regions. [...] I was mostly allowed to film openly because, again, it was of the best areas with the better fed and dressed elite population that the NK government wants the outside world to see — which is poor, yet not much worse off than Eastern Europe or China was in the late 1970’s. Don’t be fooled though, these images are not representative of most of North Korea. Look for hidden videos smuggled out to see how too many North Koreans live, with oppression, famine, orphans, and not to mention the 200,000 political victims living in soviet style Gulag camps.
News photo agencies EPA, AFP, and Reuters have all issued kill orders for a photo of Kim Jong-il’s funeral procession released by the Korean Central News Agency, the state news agency of North Korea. The photo (above at bottom) raised red flags after a comparison with a Kyodo News photo taken just seconds earlier revealed that a number of people had vanished from the scene. The New York Times writes,
A side-by-side comparison of the full images does point to a possibly banal explanation: totalitarian aesthetics. With the men straggling around the sidelines, a certain martial perfection is lost. Without the men, the tight black bands of the crowd on either side look railroad straight.
Perhaps it was a simple matter of one person gilding the lily.
The North Korean government is the latest to get caught trying to feed a poorly Photoshopped photo to the media. This past weekend the Korean Central News Agency — a state-run organization — released a photo of citizens trying to wade through floodwaters in Pyongyang, saying that heavy rains flooded farmlands, destroyed homes, and caused deaths. After initially passing the image onto its members, the AP decided to issue a “kill notice” (yup, that’s what it’s called) a day later to withdraw the photo, stating,
The content of this image has been digitally altered and does not accurately reflect the scene [...] No other version of the photo is available.
The problem was the fact that the clothing worn by the people in the photo don’t appear to be wet at all — even where the water meets the pants! It appears the water level was much lower, and the government tried to exaggerate the image, perhaps in an attempt to appeal for international aid.