Incredible Photos Inside North Korea

Most people were aware of the horrible political scene in North Korea, but when a 22-year old American student died after being detained for stealing propaganda poster from his hotel everyone became aware of the absurd political scene in North Korea. No one really ever sees the true side of North Korea. However, the same year the American tourist was condemned to forced labor, photographer Michael Huniewicz successfully smuggled out into ‘free world’ and captured over 70 photos showing the true side of North Korea.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

This photo actually took a great amount of risk as this area the photo was taken is reserved for locals only. In fact Michael recalled only having 5 seconds before he was kicked out. Fortunately he was able to take the photo without being seen.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

These 50s-looking buildings are a perfect example of brutal architecture which used to dominate the landscape in Eastern Europe during the Cold War. These gloomy gray buildings might as well be a perfect metaphor for the personal and social well-being of pretty much every suffering North Korean.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

If you ask Michael, North Korea for him is worse than what they show on the news. It seemed to him that the officers working at, reportedly, the only foreign tourist entry point in North Korea were rushing about their business when they were arriving. One of the entry points that he witnessed was evidently deserted.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

CNN reported that tourists who visit North Korea are deeply disappointed by the inability to explore the country on their own. As every tour is organized and orchestrated by the state-run Korea International Travel Company, photos like this one of their countryside are really rare. We mentioned before that photos of soldiers are against the rule, so again, it’s a wonder how this one of a white pickup truck carrying soldiers slid past the border officers.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

This is what rural North Korea looks like – miles and miles of green fields and nothingness. As every undeveloped country lacking resources needed for technological progress and development, North Korea also relies of farming as the main key for survival.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

What better indicator of poverty is out there than seeing unpaved roads, no cars, and peasants cycling and walking with no settlement in sight? This is a completely opposite picture of the one Kim and his Party are painting of their evidently struggling country. Now the whole world knows that the ‘prospering superpower’ which invests in nuclear weapons is rotten from the inside.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Just by looking at this seemingly normal photo we doubt that anyone would suspect it was taken in one of the most oppressed countries in the world. The people seem to go about their ordinary lives just like in any other country in the world, but most of them have either been victims of or know someone who suffered abuse in the form of enslavement, imprisonment, forced abortions, and torture.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Michael recalls playing with fire when deciding to snap this photo of North Korea’s countryside showing villagers next to their bikes waiting for the train to pass. In spite of photography being encouraged in controlled conditions, it is absolutely prohibited to take photos of uniformed officers such as the one of the picture.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Another photo that appears to be normal,shows North Koreans during their daily commute. Every other country in the world would not find this photo threatening, but Kim’s administration is notorious for being very secretive and does not allow unstaged photos like this one to be taken. Tourists are encouraged to photograph only “designated places that are well-maintained”.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Michael remembers that all of the places their group was taken seemed to be nice and stage-managed, thus he was surprised to see this weird slum which reminded him of ‘communist era Eastern Europe’. The North Koreans on this photo surrounded by socialist architecture of North Korean leaders are waiting to sell human waste which is used as fertilizer.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Why this photo most of us would find staged and ridiculous is because these street cleaners seem to be sweeping paths in of the biggest parks in Pyongyang which are perfectly clean. There’s also that soldier in the photograph who tourists are not allowed to take photos of.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

This pictures shows North Korean workers on a main road walking and carrying equipment. Michael stated that the poverty he encountered was expected and that the lack of technological resources only worsens the oppression. However, one thing he did not realize is the mental strain on the people there that they had to endure on daily basis.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Michael along with six other people went to a restaurant as part of his tour where he managed to take a photo of this terrified waitress who refused to interact with them apart from taking their order. He reports that while they were there the TV was constantly on playing propaganda. The rest of the guests in the restaurant pretended as though they could not see them and did also not initiate any sort of interaction.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

These well-dressed people would not be considered an unusual sight in any other country, but North Korea is a different story. Even though Michael is unable to prove that this particular scene was staged, he strongly believes that it was the case as there were no other trains scheduled to arrive or depart that very same day. The station also had a waiting room which, of course, is typically empty.



Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Bringing things into North Korea from the outside world is strictly prohibited. On this photo Michael has captured the custom declaration form he was given at entry which states that it is illegal to bring in laptops, Korean movies and even guide books.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

If you ask Michael, North Korea for him is worse than what they show on the news. It seemed to him that the officers working at, reportedly, the only foreign tourist entry point in North Korea were rushing about their business when they were arriving. One of the entry points that he witnessed was evidently deserted.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

You are probably wondering what are those watchtowers doing there in the middle of nowhere. Well, due to the regime and the poverty many North Koreans are trying to flee to China, but Kim is determined to stop them at all costs. The hills barren of trees and the guards make it more and more difficult for North Koreans to escape their terrible fate.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

China has been described as North Korea’s ‘lifeline’ with the outside world and this pictures shows why. Just across the river from the poorly governed and oppressed country lies China with its tall skyscrapers and modern infrastructure. If there is a picture worth a thousand words, then this is the one.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

The Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge pictured above is one of the few entry points for foreigners from China into North Korea. An interesting fact about this country is that it goes completely dark at night, making it easily to spot from the sky nestled between the bright South Korea and China.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

Driving trucks and cars is unseen and unheard of in North Korea. Instead, people ride bicycles, walk and ride carriages in the countryside. CNBC report revealed that for women it is again illegal to ride bikes – it seems that Kim Jung Un changed his mind after he lift the ban off his father’s absurd law last year.


Image Credit: Michael Huniewicz

The city of Pyongyang is a complete contrast to rural North Korea. Michael and the rest of the groups saw a number of vehicles and nicely dressed people. However, they could not talk to any of them as their guides appointed by the country’s Ministry of Tourism closely followed their every move. Apart from that, they were told when to go to bed and when to wake up too.