North Korea Snapshot
Project info

I've just visited North Korea recently. We all know that this is one of the few remaining totalitarian countries in the world. During a ten-day trip, I had travelled to a Pyongyang, Kaesong and Mount Kumgang with a group of tourist organised by the local official tourism agency. The local tour leader has repeatedly reminded us to get permission before taking any pictures during the tour. I, therefore, became very careful and felt stressed to some extent whenever I raised the camera.

I attempted to record the landscape and space of this closed and highly politized country. My purpose was to capture the current social situation and the local people's lives. Therefore, the main subject I photographed was not a landscape, but people's portraits and the social condition they are in. I looked for individual character and I like that kind of expressionless portrait. Traditionally we may be able to identify or guess people's occupation, class or felling through their appearance. But this doesn't seem to be the case in North Korea probably because of local political control and education.

Generally speaking, we sometimes have a stereotyped impression of the person being photographed. In this case, due to the lack of recognition of the subject's identity, it may make the viewers feel inconclusive. Reality and appearance are inherently ambiguous and full of doubts, not to mention in such a tightly controlled country.