(True Activist) Last year, photographer Michael Huniewicz traveled to North Korea from China to explore the secretive country, as well capture in raw form the state of its poverty-ridden society under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un.
The stunning photos, which were shared with the Daily Mail, were “very stressful” to smuggle out, according to Huniewicz. Many times, his guides – which are mandatory for travel – warned him “You took too many photos. Too many.” They were hinting at his likely detainment, as most of the shots were illegal to capture.
Regardless, he felt the risk was worth it, as the images give “a more candid look into the most mysterious country on the planet.”
These photos are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, as they contrast greatly from the polished photographs peddled by the state-run news agency.
Mr. Huniewicz was careful to evade his minder’s watchful eye when he took these photographs. Some feature workers in the fields and others expose the squeaky-clean capital, Pyongyang.
In this photo, North Korean streetwalkers go about in what seems to be their ordinary everyday life—a mother carrying her child and people crossing the street, among other things. Nevertheless, North Korea remains to be one of the most repressive countries since all basic freedom rights have been restricted under the Kim family, Human Rights Watch reported. In addition to that, several kinds of abuse, such as enslavement, torture, imprisonment, forced abortions, and other sexual violence were “without parallel” in this country.
This is one of the seemingly normal photos taken by Michal Huniewicz before smuggling a series out of the country. There’s nothing really unusual to these North Koreans traveling on a bus. But the North Korean government is considered notoriously secretive, Business Insider mentioned, so even the most ordinary of photos like this bring in a lot of buzz. Photography is allowed and encouraged but only in “designated places that are well-maintained…everything else is not allowed”.
Locals wait for a train to pass, providing Michal moments to snap this image of life in North Korea’s countryside. Amateur Photographer reported that photography is actively encouraged, but of course, under highly controlled conditions, and photos taken from Dandong Pyongyang train (such as the one above) are not allowed. In their interview with Michal, he said it was very much like a “stealth video game”; he could only take a picture when the uniformed officers were not around.
A waitress works in a restaurant while 24/7 propaganda plays on the television. The seven people including Michal did not get to interact with the locals at all, Bored Panda stated. And most of the waitresses seemed slightly terrified of them. Michal adds that locals pretended they could not see them or acted as if merely talking to them was a threat, which maybe it was. Taking out his DSLR camera was also too risky in some places, where locals reported sightings to the police.
Street cleaners sweep pavements for dust under the keen eye of a soldier in one of the parks in the capital city, Pyongyang. Sightings of residents cleaning on squeaky clean areas were completely bizarre for the tourists considering them as “staged”, The Sun reported. Photos such as the one above could have been deleted since a photo of a soldier’s back area is prohibited. Michal told The Sun that while he did manage to smuggle the photos out of the country, it was still pretty stressful.
In the photo, there are North Koreans waiting to sell human waste to be used as fertilizer. Michal told Mirror.co.uk that they were taken to nice places where “everything was very stage-managed”. This was one of the first things they saw—a part of a weird-looking slum, which looked like an “Oriental version of the communist-era Eastern Europe” where there are lots of socialist architecture of North Korean leaders. Aside from controlled photographs, they were also not allowed to leave their hotel rooms at night.
According to the photographer, the scene was staged, as there were no other trains that day. Michael said that he may not be able to prove whether or not the scenes were fake, but many of the scenes they saw looked “highly unnatural”, Amateur Photograph reported. The citizens appeared to be playing out at Pyongyang’s main station, with elegant passengers “happily” milling around despite having no other trains for departure. There is even a waiting room that is regally-decorated but is said to be typically empty.
North Korean workers are carrying some sort of equipment on a main road in this photo. Michal said he was prepared to see poverty but what he did not expect was the “mental strain” people had to be under, Mirror.co.uk reported. In addition, the lack of technological resources and access to these items kept them oppressed and suppressed under the Kim family’s regime. Photos that show the oppressive nature of the North Korean government are supposed to be deleted at the border.
This custom declaration form reveals that it is illegal to bring laptops into the country. And, of course, Korean films, pornography, and even guide books.
Michal said that you have to fill in several of these (above photos) before you can enter the border, Art Sheep recounted. You must have your North Korean visa issued, approved by the Party and of course, a North Korean customs declaration form. They were told that if they bring any porn into the country and they found out about it, they would show it to their travel companions to embarrass them, and then confiscate the device.
View the rest of the pictures here.
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