Whatever preconceived notion you might have of what life is like in the communist nation of North Korea they are either dead on or worse than you could imagine.
Or if you’re a leftist who thinks communism is nifty, then it’s going to be MUCH worse.
Given the brewing conflict between the United States and North Korea it makes one wonder just how equipped the country is to go to war with nations with functioning equipment and properly nourished soldiers, as these images so clearly depict.
Many of these photos were taken without the knowledge of the “government minder” that accompanied the person taking them. Several are considered illegal because they put a bad perception on the nation as being poor and oppressive (which of course, it is).
Had the photographer been caught they would surely be charged with espionage and thrown into a prison camp, where they would likely die.
Luckily these very very brave people (I would never even consider stepping foot in that country) made it out so that we can all see the truth.
Pyongyang at night. The veritable darkness in the capital highlights the lack of electricity in the country as a whole
Pyongyang during a blackout…except for an illuminated photo of “Dear Leader.”
Photos of people using computers is allowed as a propaganda tool to show how modern the country is, and that people can afford computers….except as shown above there is no electricity. That doesn’t stop this girl, who is clearly an actress for the camera, from typing away at nothing as though we are expected to have lying eyes.
Travel is basically forbidden. Expressed written permission from the government is required to leave a town or village. So this train is purely for tourists and to fool people into thinking citizens are free to move about.
The people in this scene are actors, as the trains had stopped running at the time this was taken.
An aerial shot of Pyongyang. Isn’t it just lovely?
In communism everything is the same, so buildings have to look the same too. For the most part they are all cement gray.
The skylines are built to make people think the city is a capitol like any other around the world. In reality, the buildings are total shams. There is no electricity and many don’t even have insides, so they’re completely uninhabitable.
Ryugyong Hotel dominates the Pyongyang skyline. It remains unfinished and is dubbed the worst building in the history of mankind.
A government building. Had the person who took this photo been caught they would’ve been charged with espionage and surely sent to a prison (death) camp.
The interesting thing to note is the dearth of cars, people walk in the streets because that’s basically the only use for them. You’ll see more of that in other photos.
This is the line to use a bus, North Koreans will wait for hours to finally get on one.
These taxis are probably only available to the country’s elite. Who are multi-millionaires, and the only people who can afford them. Imagine that, a sign you are super rich is that you get to use a taxi for transportation.
There is no food. People fish at the river in Pyongyang because that’s the only way they will get protein for themselves and their families.
This man is using a tire to go out to the middle of a pond in the hopes to increase his chances of catching a fish.
This is a grocery store, usually only accessible to upper classes (but not the elite). Notice the mostly empty shelves. This store has three items you can buy. Apples, turnips, and leeks. Bon appetite.
Most people can’t afford the luxury of shopping at a grocery store, so they resort to eating grass.
Operating a business is illegal. These outlaws are running a street store in an attempt to supplement their meager income.
Another illegal street store.
As shown previously people walk all over the streets, there are no cars.
There is no religion in North Korea, except that which includes worshiping the leaders.
TV and radios spew propaganda all day, every day, and it is required by law that all TV’s and radios be turned on ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.
Farming in North Korea is largely dependent on child labor.
More child labor.
Agricultural methods and technology is still stuck in the 18th century, which explains why the country forever remains unable to feed itself.
One of the only ways to claw your way to a better life is to join the conscripted army. It’s even better to become an officer, but it’s very difficult and connections and string pulling are necessary to pull it off.
This soldier is supervising a women who are doing their one job, to sweep clean the car-deprived streets.
How soldiers get around, think American soldiers stand a chance in their Humvees?
The country is totally incapable of supporting the million-person army. So soldiers often take on day labor type jobs to support themselves…despite the fact getting in the army is a ticket to “easier” street.
North Koreans never see foreigners. This photo shows their reaction to seeing westerners.
The expression on their face when the propaganda cameras aren’t on them (this was taken with a hidden camera).
A man bathing in a pond or river because there is no running water. Taking this photo is illegal because it makes the country look impoverished. (well…)
A pump in this home is tapped into a well and pumped into a bathtub, not for bathing…it’s for drinking. This photo was taken after the person taking it was able to slip away from a government minder for a moment.
This minor offense in the free world would land this man in a concentration camp if he were caught.
Everyone walks or bikes everywhere. Some commutes for work take up to 4 hours. This photo is illegal because it’s prohibited to show North Koreans as tired.
There are numerous ghost towns in the country. Sometimes entire towns are uprooted and force to inhabit a ghost town to give the illusion to the outside world that all is well.
These roads are designed to defend against land invasion, the big blocks on the side of the road contain shrapnel designed to stop tanks.
An electric fence with an ocean view. See the country DOES have electricity after all!
The view to China, sometimes in the winter people try crossing the river when it freezes over. You know it’s bad when people risk their lives to escape into China.
Share this on social media and show others how terrible life under communism really is. Let us know what you think in the comments.
UPDATE: After posting this I became aware that the the photographer is Eric Lafforgue, you can see the HUGE collection of images from North Korea at his Flicker page. He is as talented and skilled as he was brave to take these photos in the first place. This body of work does a great service to the world for letting us know the truth of what’s happening behind closed borders.