Truthfulness is what one expects from photographs about North Korea. However, there are many truths in North Korea: not in the murky post-modern sense that there are no facts to be shown, but because of the severe limitations on what one is, literally and prosaically, allowed to see.
So, how can representations of grandiose decoys, representations whose
very angle seems constrained by secretive officialdom, fulfill our longing for a glance at the
horrors of a totalitarian regime?
Shouldn’t we rather prefer a furtive glimpse of the terror
unfolding behind the scenes?
We should not. Catching from the corner of the eye the sight of what might be a
hungry child isn’t necessary to understand the madness of the regime. The few people in
the surrounding emptiness give the scale of the buildings; the sober explanations,
provided by the regime itself, give the scale of the folly.
We don’t need to be told that the
cooperative shop isn’t available to a starving population: one should be scared of a regime
that builds to fool visitors.
What Maxime Delvaux’s photos show is very real. Sufficiently
real, indeed, to gently distillate a disturbing feeling, where the nauseating vertigo of some
of the Borge’s Fictions mixes up with a genuine Orwellian fear.
Social psychologists recently found that Western educated people tend to
underestimate the extent to which they are influenced by irrational conspiracy theories.
Propaganda works insidiously, or else it would be useless. So, if at first you only feel
slightly amused, if it takes you a while to understand what it means for a country to display
this, it’s all right. This is what these photos are for.
— Mikhail Kissine
View of North KoreaGrandiose public monuments and propagandist decoys meant to impress official visitors on guided (and guarded) tours are rendered lifeless by the total lack of ordinary everyday citizens. Photos by Maxime Delvaux.View Images
DPRK: Visitor’s View of North Korea
Grandiose public monuments and propagandist decoys meant to impress official visitors on guided (and guarded) tours are rendered lifeless by the total lack of ordinary everyday citizens. Photos by Maxime Delvaux.View Images
DPRK: Visitor’s View of North Korea
Grandiose public monuments and propagandist decoys meant to impress official visitors on guided (and guarded) tours are rendered lifeless by the total lack of ordinary everyday citizens. Photos by Maxime Delvaux.
West Pyongyang view. © Maxime Delvaux
Kim Il Sung Square. This is Pyongyang's most important square and a common gathering place for rallies, dances and military parades. The white dots on the ground are positioning marks. © Maxime Delvaux
Street in Pyongyang displaying the teachings of Kim Il Sung. © Maxime Delvaux
Entrance door of the demilitarized zone in the former village of Panmunjom where the armistice of the Korean war was signed between Korea and the United nations. The mosaic symbolizes North Korea's will of reunification. © Maxime Delvaux
Pyongyang's ice rink. © Maxime Delvaux
Mansudae Grand Monument with Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il's 20 meters tall statues in front of the sacred Mount Paektu's 70 meter long mosaic. © Maxime Delvaux
The Juche tower on the Taedong river represents the ideology developed by Kim Il Sung. It was designed by Kim Jong Il for his father's 70th birthday. Each of its 25 500 white granite blocks represents a day of his life until that day. © Maxime Delvaux
Songdowon International Children's Union Camp's lecture hall. © Maxime Delvaux
Grand People Study House entrance hall. This is Pyongyang's central library that was built to celebrate leader Kim Il-Sung's 70th birthday. It has a total floor space of 100,000 square meters and 600 rooms. © Maxime Delvaux
World map mosaic in International Children's Union Camp. The North Korean maps are always represented unified to symbolize the will of reunification. © Maxime Delvaux
Kim Il Sung's birth house in Mangyongdae-Guyok which considered North Korea's most sacred place. © Maxime Delvaux
Pyongyang's Arch of triumph. It was built to honor and glorify president Kim Il Sung's role in the military resistance against Japan between 1925 and 1945. It is the world's tallest arch of triumph. © Maxime Delvaux
Shop selling local products in a cooperative farm close to Hamhung. © Maxime Delvaux
Ulim Waterfall, the 2001 sign was made in memory of Kim Jong Il's visit at that time and was sculpted to recreate his handwriting. © Maxime Delvaux
Pyongyang's indoor stadium which is used for large political meetings and sporting events. © Maxime Delvaux
The Ryugyong Hotel with a height of 330 meters, is by far the largest structure in North Korea. The construction began in 1987 and is still ongoing. © Maxime Delvaux
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