Forbidden Photos From North Korea

On May 18, 2014 by Tim Newman

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - demilitarized zone

If you’ve got the time, money and patience, it is possible to visit North Korea. But only the side of North Korea that the government is happy for you to see. You’ll be introduced to smiling well dressed people, look at office workers with computers and well lit shops with Western goods in them. This ultra-thinly veiled ruse gets harder to maintain as technology develops. With digital cameras and ever smaller devices it’s harder and harder for border control to edit the snaps you’ve taken.

The following photos are fairly recent and come from a trip to North Korea by a professional photographer Eric Lafforgue. This guy was known by North Korean officials to be a photographer, he had published photos of North Korea in 2012 and been asked to take them down but refused. So this time border officials went through the images he had with a fine toothed comb.

The photographer was asked to delete all of the following pictures for various reasons, some understandable from the regime’s point of view, others not so much. Somehow he managed to smuggle the SD cards back and these powerful images were left for him to share.

It certainly is a fascinating insight into the country they’re trying so desperately and unsuccessfully to hide from the West.

This first photo is taken inside a dolphin torture training centre. You are allowed to take pictures of the prisoners dolphins, but not the army. Never the army. They made up about half of the spectators.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - army dolphin

As I said, you can’t take pictures of the army, especially not when they are forced to push the dilapidated failure of a bus.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - army pushes bus

More of the army…

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - army

The black market in North Korea is, as the name suggests, illegal. But it is tolerated by the regime. The people at the bottom of the ladder are starving and crushingly poor. The leaders know this fact very well, but are in no position to help and arguably not too concerned for their welfare. Black markets provide a little income for people and actually help keep the country afloat.

Occasionally there are crack downs on these mini-marts but as a general rule they are allowed to flourish. An interesting side effect of this black market is a shift in gender roles. Men work for the state in jobs which are paid pennies and often wages don’t turn up at all. North Korean women are not really welcome in state jobs so it’s down to them to run these “illegal” stalls.

This underground economy run by females means that women are often the primary wage earners; that puts the men in an uncomfortable position. According to UN reports there has been a marked rise in domestic crime as men struggle with feelings of emasculation in this Chinese style patriarchal country.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - black market

This photo was initially allowed because it shows workers using computers, but when officials noticed that the computer wasn’t actually working they got rid of it:

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - broken pc

People queuing to get on buses to head for work.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - bus queue

Children working in the fields. It’s obvious why they weren’t so keen on the West seeing these…

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - Child workers 2 North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - Child workers

This next shot is from within the Demilitarized zone on the border of North and South Korea. No photos please.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - demilitarized zone

The next picture was deleted because you shouldn’t be seen mucking around underneath pictures of such serious and revered statesmen. There are many rules and regulations around images of leaders past and present. Each house is legally required to have well maintained portraits on their walls. You can face punishment if you either haven’t got them up, or they are damaged in any way.

Personally I have a life size portrait of Tony Blair hanging on my bedroom wall.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - direspectful

Many kids have never seen an escalator (poor things) so they look at it with a sense of fear and awe.

North Korea Rare Deleted Photos - escalator

Continued on next page…


Pages: 1 2 3

@media all and (max-width: 228px) { div#darkbackground, div.visiblebox { display: none; } }