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Photos by Kernbeisser
In the North, nothing is straightforward
Imagine the world’s least known and least understood country. Imagine a place where everybody lives under the direct control and guidance of the government, a place where every individual is supposed to work for the gains of the collective.
This description could perhaps be summarized as “Stalinist communism,” but mind you, in North Korea, nothing is quite so straightforward.
When asked about North Korea, most people would use words such as “axis of evil,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “dictatorship,” “starvation,” “secretive” and sometimes even worse. Yet when pushed further, very few people could say any more than these words.
The truth is, most of us don’t really know much about North Korea. We don’t know how they live. We don’t know their daily lives. At least I certainly didn’t, so me and my camera were soon on a 1970s Russian-made plane heading for Pyongyang.
This photo-story does not have a political agenda, except to break the taboo deriving from the axis of evil concept. The photographs aim to capture snapshots from the ordinary lives of the people of North Korea. I would hope that this photographs provide a brief insight into this closed and alien world.
Underground railway station
Building in the city
Typical houses Life in the suburbs
Traffic in the city
Comon scene in Korea
Trouble on the road
There is no traffic jams
Common way of traveling
Beautiful country side
In the city… familiar scene, like Zagreb (Croatia)
Made in North Korea
Renovations Korean style
More photos… it’s one of few survived famous Buddhist temple of Korea.
It’s Ryongtongsa Buddhist temple at Kaesong (Capital of Koryo dynasty).
How Bad is Life in North Korea?
The difficulty is that North Korea(GDP per capita in 2007 : $1,114) became super poor country since the communist occupation began so that it is now more close to China($2,483) than Korea($20,015).
Current South Korean government offered a plan to bring the North Korean GDP per capita up to $3000 if they opens doors to the South and the world. However, it seems that they’d rather keep the country closed than doing so because all they actually want is to make sure the Kim Jung Ill’s throne is safe from hands of justices and help, which will eventually awaken North Korean people. AND, they get along with China which actually never care about North Korean people suffering from hunger or their economy(as the Kim Jung Ill does) but to keep it (N.Korea “province”) a stupid waste land as a buffer zone between China and S.Korea, Japan. (and the U.S. and U.N.).
When a country forbids foreigners to freely wander around and talk to people, smart money says that something monstrous is going on. North Korea is probably now the world’s clearest example. It’s hard to confirm that the alleged horrors are going on, but the fact that we aren’t allowed to confirm them is a damning confirmation.
But now the North Korean government has accidentally tipped its hand. As the Los Angeles Times reports, it is now earning a lot of hard currency by letting trusted citizens work abroad.
The North Korean government keeps most of the earnings… Experts estimate that there are 10,000 to 15,000 North Koreans working abroad in behalf of their government in jobs ranging from nursing to construction work. North Korea has sent workers to Russia, Libya, Bulgaria, Saudi Arabia and Angola, Chech Republic, etc. defectors say. Almost the entire monthly salary of each of the worker, is deposited directly into an account controlled by the North Korean government, which gives the workers only a fraction of the money.
The key to this story is that despite everything, working abroad is considered a good deal. It’s one of the few ways to save some money to help their families back home. And only the “most loyal” North Koreans qualify, with their families left behind as hostages.
By far the largest number of North Koreans working outside their country are in Russia, where they do mostly logging and construction in military-style camps run by the North Korean government. When the camps were set up in the early 1970s, the workers were North Korean prisoners. But as the North Korean economy disintegrated in the late 1980s, doing hard labor in Siberia came to be seen as a reward because at least it meant getting adequate food.
Life In North Korea