Carl De Keyzer in North Korea, the most mysterious country

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Carl De Keyzer - Roadside monument of an AK-47, near Kaesong. Political monuments are common, even in small towns and villages. 4 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Roadside monument of an AK-47, near Kaesong. Political monuments are common, even in small towns and villages. 4 November 2015 2:00 PM

Published: December 29, 2019

Last updated:

Introduction

North Korea is one of the most enigmatic countries in the world, with limited access by foreign media as well as tourists. Everything in this last communist state is controlled by the government – from an ideological, cultural, and political perspective in the world.

Nevertheless, Belgian photographer Carl De Keyzer became one of the few international photographers to tour the country and take photos of the happenings, albeit high supervision. The photographer spent 30 months during his four trips in 2015 and 2017, traversing the most mysterious country in the entire world.

What is De Keyzer known for?

De Keyzer has been captivated by the power structures as well as the impact of power on society. Among other international political situations, he captured include the fall of the Soviet Union, the religious fanaticism in the United States, and the decline of Cuba.

What De Keyzer’s photos show

With unprecedented access to the country officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, De Keyzer managed to document over 200 locations courtesy of his travel agent KoryoTours.

The images include the orderly architecture of tourist landmarks, state monuments, schools, social places, the closeness of private homes, as well as the spectacular natural landscapes of North Korea. Overall, most of the images captured showcase daily life in North Korea.

Some of the areas De Keyzer took photos of is the then newly launched Monsu Waterpark, Masikyrong Ski Resort, the Pyongyang Zoo, as well as the contemporary skyscrapers that the leader of the state Kim Jong-un had constructed in the context of his desire to find a socialist dream country.

Carl De Keyzer - Into the tiger’s mouth; entrance to the Pyongyang Zoo. 28 May 2017 5.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Into the tiger’s mouth; entrance to the Pyongyang Zoo. 28 May 2017 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - A man and his daughter learn about prehistoric life; Pyongyang Zoo. 28 May 2017 3.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – A man and his daughter learn about prehistoric life; Pyongyang Zoo. 28 May 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Flower Exhibition, Pyongyang. Party Foundation Day. A group of students walk together to the riverside. In the background is the Party Foundation Monument. 10 October 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Kimilsungia-Kimjongilia Flower Exhibition, Pyongyang. Party Foundation Day. A group of students walk together to the riverside. In the background is the Party Foundation Monument. 10 October 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Pedestrians on Future Scientists Street, Pyongyang. This new residential district opened in 2015, and is reserved for scientists, academics, professors, and their families. 8 November 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Pedestrians on Future Scientists Street, Pyongyang. This new residential district opened in 2015, and is reserved for scientists, academics, professors, and their families. 8 November 2015 4:00 PM

Restricted access & forbidden photos

Speaking of his journey across the state, De Keyzer states:

I was brought from A to B by two guides, mostly young women, in a minivan with a driver. When we arrived there was usually a speech by a local guide to be translated, and after all that, there was very little time to take pictures. A lot of places were ”no photography” as well, even the most propagandistic ones like the Army museum in Pyongyang. I was not allowed to take even one step on my own. Never to leave the hotel. I tried to make as many images as I could, even the ones that were not allowed. The guides knew that in the end, I had to submit all the images anyway.”

But as luck would have it, just three of the 400 images he submitted were refused. Most of the pictures that he was not allowed to take, including those of buildings with scaffolding, soldiers, the countryside, and people without permission, were to his surprised, granted for his final documentation.

However, De Keyzer wanted to visit and photographed some other places in the country but was denied permission. One of these places was the International Friendship Museum in Pyongyang. In there, all the presents from the heads of states around the world are shown. He also wanted to take a photograph of the Palace of the Sun, where the mausoleums or mausolea of previous leaders are.

Carl De Keyzer - Mural depicting President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il in front of the International Friendship Exhibition; Chongchon Hotel, Mt. Myohyang, South Pyong’an Province. 31 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Mural depicting President Kim Il Sung and General Kim Jong Il in front of the International Friendship Exhibition; Chongchon Hotel, Mt. Myohyang, South Pyong’an Province. 31 October 2015 1:00 PM

Reality vs. propaganda

For many years, North Korea has been a pariah state in the world, and the Western media and papers have believed to have played a hand in spreading propaganda about the country. According to De Keyzer, the images he took are nothing like what the country is being portraited in western media.

“There is a lot of western propaganda as well. We like to see DPRK as the next big enemy if only to sell papers and media. I could be wrong of course, there is a decent amount of manipulation going on with visitors but I would say that a lot of information is exaggerated.”

Carl De Keyzer - Pyongyang Station, Pyongyang. Locals and travelers watch a film on a public screen. This screen in the center of the city regularly shows movies throughout the day. It is also used for important news broadcasts, such as the announcement of nuclear or missile tests, for example. 9 November 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Pyongyang Station, Pyongyang. Locals and travelers watch a film on a public screen. This screen in the center of the city regularly shows movies throughout the day. It is also used for important news broadcasts, such as the announcement of nuclear or missile tests, for example. 9 November 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - A student watches a video about Joseph Stalin at the Science and Technology Center, Pyongyang. 26 May 2017 3.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – A student watches a video about Joseph Stalin at the Science and Technology Center, Pyongyang. 26 May 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Drawing class at the recently renovated Manggyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace. Pyongyang. 1 June 2017 4.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Drawing class at the recently renovated Manggyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace. Pyongyang. 1 June 2017 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Electronic goods on sale at the Taesong Department Store, Pyongyang. Originally based on the Soviet style, the capital’s department stores have diversified in recent years and now operate their own restaurants, spas, bakeries, and bars. 7 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Electronic goods on sale at the Taesong Department Store, Pyongyang. Originally based on the Soviet style, the capital’s department stores have diversified in recent years and now operate their own restaurants, spas, bakeries, and bars. 7 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Toys, with a background image depicting children dressed as soldiers and doctors, playing with remote-control vehicles. Three Revolutions Exhibition. Pyongyang. 29 May 2017 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Toys, with a background image depicting children dressed as soldiers and doctors, playing with remote-control vehicles. Three Revolutions Exhibition. Pyongyang. 29 May 2017 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Hungnam Fertilizer Plant. Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province. The agriculture sector in the DPRK used to rely heavily on chemical fertilizers, but limited energy resources since the 1990s have resulted in the widespread use of organic inputs. 18 October 2015 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Hungnam Fertilizer Plant. Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province. The agriculture sector in the DPRK used to rely heavily on chemical fertilizers, but limited energy resources since the 1990s have resulted in the widespread use of organic inputs. 18 October 2015 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. An image of Korean People’s Army tanks conducting war exercises. Displays of military might are common in public media. 3 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. An image of Korean People’s Army tanks conducting war exercises. Displays of military might are common in public media. 3 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. An artist’s depiction of alleged war crimes during the Korean War. The diorama depicts the American soldiers driving a nail into a Korean woman’s head; Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. 3 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. An artist’s depiction of alleged war crimes during the Korean War. The diorama depicts the American soldiers driving a nail into a Korean woman’s head; Sinchon US War Atrocities Museum. 3 November 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - An official portrait of Marshal Kim Jong Un providing on-the-spot guidance, Pyongyang. 27 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – An official portrait of Marshal Kim Jong Un providing on-the-spot guidance, Pyongyang. 27 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Locker room in the May Day Stadium, Pyongyang. Portraits of the DPRK leadership hang on the wall, just as they do in classrooms, offices and living rooms. 8 October 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Locker room in the May Day Stadium, Pyongyang. Portraits of the DPRK leadership hang on the wall, just as they do in classrooms, offices and living rooms. 8 October 2015 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Official photo of Marshal Kim Jong Un’s on-the-spot inspection at the Panmunjom Truce Village, Kaesong. 5 November 2015 9:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Official photo of Marshal Kim Jong Un’s on-the-spot inspection at the Panmunjom Truce Village, Kaesong. 5 November 2015 9:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Schoolchildren’s Palace, Pyongyang

Carl De Keyzer – Schoolchildren’s Palace, Pyongyang

Carl De Keyzer - Sculpture of General Kim Jong Il at Munsu Waterpark, Pyongyang. 8 November 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Sculpture of General Kim Jong Il at Munsu Waterpark, Pyongyang. 8 November 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Swimming lessons; Changgwangwon Health Complex, Pyongyang. There is an annual swimming competition across the Taedong River, which bisects the capital. 1 November 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Swimming lessons; Changgwangwon Health Complex, Pyongyang. There is an annual swimming competition across the Taedong River, which bisects the capital. 1 November 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Seamen’s club, Nampo. Small theater used for performances and political meetings. The slogans on the sides say Long Live the Workers’ Party of Korea and Long Live the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 5 June 2017 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Seamen’s club, Nampo. Small theater used for performances and political meetings. The slogans on the sides say Long Live the Workers’ Party of Korea and Long Live the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. 5 June 2017 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Interior of the recently renovated Manggyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace. Pyongyang. The rocket is the Unha-3 (or ‘Galaxy-3’) carrier, designed to deliver payloads into space. 1 June 2017 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Interior of the recently renovated Manggyondae Schoolchildren’s Palace. Pyongyang. The rocket is the Unha-3 (or ‘Galaxy-3’) carrier, designed to deliver payloads into space. 1 June 2017 4:00 PM

Exhibitions & Book

The photos were shown at the American University Museum in Washington, DC, in 2017 just a few miles from the White House. The exhibition was titled States of Mind, and it contained 60 prints from De Keyzer’s collection. The display was the last in a series of Korea-themed exhibitions organized by Jack Rasmussen.

After taking snaps of various places he visited in the country, De Keyzer published a book titled DPR Korea Grand Tour, which comprises of over 250 images of North Korea.

Carl De Keyzer - DPR Korea Grand Tour, 2017

Carl De Keyzer – DPR Korea Grand Tour, 2017, 256 pages, published by Lannoo


1 min 12 sec

Analysis

The images from North Korea help to humanize the citizens of the state in the eyes of the world, and Rasmussen believes that because of these images, one has to at least think twice about dropping bombs on them.

The children in the images appear clean and fresh and well-fed; the men are more sophisticated, and the women elegant. There is nowhere that hints of the bad news that is always reported by the western media. In many western papers and media, the story is usually about malnutrition, refugee camps, human rights violations, poverty, and dictatorship. But with a mixture of golden-sweet pastel hues, modern architecture, red flags, and lively citizens, De Keyzer depicts an overall image of a country in which it is not as challenging to stay as it has been made to look.

While the western media paints North Korea as falling apart, De Keyzer presents it as antiseptic, literally so, with images of bedroom furniture enclosed behind a glass wall.

Carl De Keyzer - Technological exhibition at the Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang. 24 September 2015 11.00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Technological exhibition at the Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang. 24 September 2015 11:00 AM

Conclusion

These images at least show that North Korea is not as many western media and papers have painted it. But many people believe that the photos by De Keyzer do not give a comprehensive picture of what North Korea really is. Or maybe the real message of the images is lost in different translations by viewers.

In some images, De Keyzer documents a pair of hotplates cooking a meal, and next to them is a television displaying a vivid scene of raging artillery guns. That appears to be a telling touch within dull tableaux. Another thing that could escape the attention of viewers is how De Keyzer presented the images. In one photo, we can see framed portraits of the country’s dictators from the Kim family, who seem to have an all-too-real influence on their subjects. Also, in some images, we can see people in the street where people seem a little bit scared. In the end, it is still hard to tell what De Keyzer and his minders would have wanted to be revealed to the outside world.

Photos: Life in Pyongyang

Carl De Keyzer - Wedding preparations, Pyongyang. 30 October 2015 1.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Wedding preparations, Pyongyang. 30 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Young Koreans explore a mockup of the country’s winter landscape at the Science and Technology Complex, Pyongyang. Koreans from both north and south will often describe the country as having four distinct seasons. 26 May 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Young Koreans explore a mockup of the country’s winter landscape at the Science and Technology Complex, Pyongyang. Koreans from both north and south will often describe the country as having four distinct seasons. 26 May 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - A lay minister at Bongsu Protestant Church, Pyongyang. The church is nondenominational; American evangelist Billy Graham once preached here. European, American, and Canadian missionaries introduced Protestant Christianity to Korea in the 19th century, where it took root, especially in the northern half of the peninsula. Before 1945, Pyongyang had the largest Christian population of any city in East Asia except Manila. Many of today’s Christians are the descendants of prominent merchant and intellectual families who were involved in nationalist activities against Japanese rule during the colonial period, and, for this reason, are allowed to continue their family traditions in the predominately atheist DPRK. 28 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – A lay minister at Bongsu Protestant Church, Pyongyang. The church is nondenominational; American evangelist Billy Graham once preached here. European, American, and Canadian missionaries introduced Protestant Christianity to Korea in the 19th century, where it took root, especially in the northern half of the peninsula. Before 1945, Pyongyang had the largest Christian population of any city in East Asia except Manila. Many of today’s Christians are the descendants of prominent merchant and intellectual families who were involved in nationalist activities against Japanese rule during the colonial period, and, for this reason, are allowed to continue their family traditions in the predominately atheist DPRK. 28 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Monument to Party Foundation. Pyongyang. Bronze relief depicting workers, farmers, and intellectuals, flanked by the soldiers. The symbol of the Korean Workers’ Party adds a writing brush, signifying the intelligentsia, to the traditional hammer and sickle of other communist parties. 8 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Monument to Party Foundation. Pyongyang. Bronze relief depicting workers, farmers, and intellectuals, flanked by the soldiers. The symbol of the Korean Workers’ Party adds a writing brush, signifying the intelligentsia, to the traditional hammer and sickle of other communist parties. 8 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Monument to Party Foundation. Pyongyang. The symbol of the Korean Workers’ Party adds a writing brush, for the intelligentsia, to the traditional hammer and sickle of other communist parties. 8 October 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Monument to Party Foundation. Pyongyang. The symbol of the Korean Workers’ Party adds a writing brush, for the intelligentsia, to the traditional hammer and sickle of other communist parties. 8 October 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Ryugyong Hotel; view from the Changgwangsan Hotel. 2 November 2015 7:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Pyongyang Ice Rink and the Ryugyong Hotel; view from the Changgwangsan Hotel. 2 November 2015 7:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Tower of the Juche Idea, Pyongyang. Local guide and expert on the Pyongyang skyline, wearing traditional Korean dress. . 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Tower of the Juche Idea, Pyongyang. Local guide and expert on the Pyongyang skyline, wearing traditional Korean dress. 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Crowds watch a public performance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theater, Pyongang. This theater is the home of the DPRK’s Five Revolutionary Operas, elaborate Western-style operatic performances with choreographed dances and backgrounds. 7 October 2015 4.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Crowds watch a public performance in front of the Pyongyang Grand Theater, Pyongang. This theater is the home of the DPRK’s Five Revolutionary Operas, elaborate Western-style operatic performances with choreographed dances and backgrounds. 7 October 2015 4.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Entry to the Grand People’s Study House, Pyongyang. The painting in the background depicts President Kim Il Sung at Mt. Paekdu. 5 June 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Entry to the Grand People’s Study House, Pyongyang. The painting in the background depicts President Kim Il Sung at Mt. Paekdu. 5 June 2017 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Father and son sit down for a rest in front of the April 25th House of Culture, Pyongyang. April 25th is the founding date of the Korean People’s Army, and the enormous structure is used for important military and political meetings, as well as performances. 26 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Father and son sit down for a rest in front of the April 25th House of Culture, Pyongyang. April 25th is the founding date of the Korean People’s Army, and the enormous structure is used for important military and political meetings, as well as performances. 26 May 2017 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Indoor Stadium. Pyongyang. Celebrating 10.10’—10 October, Party Foundation Day, at a mass dance; Indoor Stadium. 11 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Indoor Stadium. Pyongyang. Celebrating 10.10’—10 October, Party Foundation Day, at a mass dance; Indoor Stadium. 11 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Metro staff wipe down a car, Pyongyang. The metro is closed for two days a month for fullscale maintenance. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Metro staff wipe down a car, Pyongyang. The metro is closed for two days a month for fullscale maintenance. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Metro, Pyongyang. A train arriving at one of the smaller metro stations. The capital’s larger metro stations are reminiscent of Moscow’s subway with their elaborate interiors of chandeliers, mosaics, and ornate columns. Smaller stations are more modest, but nevertheless have their own unique mosaics, and often accompanying bronze work. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Metro, Pyongyang. A train arriving at one of the smaller metro stations. The capital’s larger metro stations are reminiscent of Moscow’s subway with their elaborate interiors of chandeliers, mosaics, and ornate columns. Smaller stations are more modest, but nevertheless have their own unique mosaics, and often accompanying bronze work. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - A statue of President Kim Il Sung in a metro station, Pyongyang. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – A statue of President Kim Il Sung in a metro station, Pyongyang. 9 October 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Party Foundation Day celebrations, Pyongyang. Soldiers of the Korean People’s Army leave the capital after a successful military parade. While soldiers are completely serious during the parade itself, they take on a relaxed and festive attitude once they have finished marching in formation. 10 October 2015 6:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Party Foundation Day celebrations, Pyongyang. Soldiers of the Korean People’s Army leave the capital after a successful military parade. While soldiers are completely serious during the parade itself, they take on a relaxed and festive attitude once they have finished marching in formation. 10 October 2015 6:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - A view of west Pyongyang from a room in the Yanggakdo International Hotel. 26 May 2017 9:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – A view of west Pyongyang from a room in the Yanggakdo International Hotel. 26 May 2017 9:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Koryo Hotel. Pyongyang. Offices, apartments, and the Koryo Hotel. Pyongyang. Offices, apartments, and the Koryo Hotel. 19 October 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Koryo Hotel. Pyongyang. Offices, apartments, and the Koryo Hotel. Pyongyang. Offices, apartments, and the Koryo Hotel. 19 October 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Sinuiju, North Pyong’an Province. Korean freighter moored on the Amnok (Yalu) River. Across the far bank is the Chinese city of Dandong, Liaoning Province. 9 June 2017 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Sinuiju, North Pyong’an Province. Korean freighter moored on the Amnok (Yalu) River. Across the far bank is the Chinese city of Dandong, Liaoning Province. 9 June 2017 11:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Tower of the Juche Idea, Pyongyang. View of East Pyongyang — home of many of the city’s universities and hospitals — from the Tower of the Juche Idea. The red words on the roof of a building in the foreground say ‘one heart’, and form half of a slogan reading ‘single-hearted unity’. The hammer, sickle, and writing brush of the Party Foundation Monument can be seen on the left in the background. 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Tower of the Juche Idea, Pyongyang. View of East Pyongyang — home of many of the city’s universities and hospitals — from the Tower of the Juche Idea. The red words on the roof of a building in the foreground say ‘one heart’, and form half of a slogan reading ‘single-hearted unity’. The hammer, sickle, and writing brush of the Party Foundation Monument can be seen on the left in the background. 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Tower of the Juche Idea. Pyongyang. Pyongyang citizens practice for a mass rally beneath the Tower of the Juche Idea. Such rallies can involve tens of thousands of people, and take significant time and energy to plan, practice, and coordinate. 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Tower of the Juche Idea. Pyongyang. Pyongyang citizens practice for a mass rally beneath the Tower of the Juche Idea. Such rallies can involve tens of thousands of people, and take significant time and energy to plan, practice, and coordinate. 16 September 2015 4:00 PM

Photos: Life outside of Pyongyang

Carl De Keyzer - A local guide at the Stone River, a remote geological feature in a beautiful highland area — at Mt. Okry- on Revolutionary Site, Pujon County, South Hamgyong Province. 17 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – A local guide at the Stone River, a remote geological feature in a beautiful highland area — at Mt. Okry- on Revolutionary Site, Pujon County, South Hamgyong Province. 17 October 2015 1:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Art students paint landscapes in Moran Hill Park, Pyongyang. Moran Hill — the location of Pyongyang’s inner castle — is the home of numerous historic relics, and features prominently in Korean arts and literature through the ages. 23 September 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Art students paint landscapes in Moran Hill Park, Pyongyang. Moran Hill — the location of Pyongyang’s inner castle — is the home of numerous historic relics, and features prominently in Korean arts and literature through the ages. 23 September 2015 2:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Samjiyon Grand Monument. Ryanggang Province. Statues of Korean revolutionary fighters in the ‘Anti-Japanese Armed Struggle’. From 1910 to 1945, Korea was a colony of the Japanese Empire. Those who took up arms against Japanese rule are regarded as heroes in the DPRK. 19 September 2015 8:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Samjiyon Grand Monument. Ryanggang Province. Statues of Korean revolutionary fighters in the ‘Anti-Japanese Armed Struggle’. From 1910 to 1945, Korea was a colony of the Japanese Empire. Those who took up arms against Japanese rule are regarded as heroes in the DPRK. 19 September 2015 8:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer - Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province. A trolley-bus attendant. While the number of cars, including taxis, has increased in recent years, city dwellers make extensive use of public transportation. 20 September 2015 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province. A trolley-bus attendant. While the number of cars, including taxis, has increased in recent years, city dwellers make extensive use of public transportation. 20 September 2015 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. View from the central square. Located on the border with China, Hoeryong has been an important garrison town and trading center since the 15th century. 21 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province. View from the central square. Located on the border with China, Hoeryong has been an important garrison town and trading center since the 15th century. 21 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Jipsam Revolutionary Site. North Hamgyong Province. A boy, his bicycle, and fishing gear at Jipsam Revolutionary Site. Angling is a popular activity and a competition is held in the capital every year. 20 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Jipsam Revolutionary Site. North Hamgyong Province. A boy, his bicycle, and fishing gear at Jipsam Revolutionary Site. Angling is a popular activity and a competition is held in the capital every year. 20 September 2015 4:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Mt. Chilbo, North Hamgyong Province. Ethnic Koreans from China enjoy a beachside picnic of fresh seafood. Many of China’s roughly two million citizens of Korean descent have family ties just across the border. Large populations of ethnic Koreans also live abroad in Japan and the United States. 19 September 2015 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Mt. Chilbo, North Hamgyong Province. Ethnic Koreans from China enjoy a beachside picnic of fresh seafood. Many of China’s roughly two million citizens of Korean descent have family ties just across the border. Large populations of ethnic Koreans also live abroad in Japan and the United States. 19 September 2015 5:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Mt. Myohyang, South Pyong’an Province. Preparing for a barbecue in a river bed. When traveling domestically and abroad, it is common for Koreans to travel with their work units, although travel with family and friends is now becoming more common. 31 October 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Mt. Myohyang, South Pyong’an Province. Preparing for a barbecue in a river bed. When traveling domestically and abroad, it is common for Koreans to travel with their work units, although travel with family and friends is now becoming more common. 31 October 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Mt. Paektu, Ryanggang Province. Forest friends point the way through the wilderness on the flanks of the mountain. Paektu is the source of the Amnok (Yalu) and Tumen Rivers, which today form the land border between Korea and China. 18 September 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Mt. Paektu, Ryanggang Province. Forest friends point the way through the wilderness on the flanks of the mountain. Paektu is the source of the Amnok (Yalu) and Tumen Rivers, which today form the land border between Korea and China. 18 September 2015 3:00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Mt. Paektu, Ryanggang Province. Taking the Hyangdobong funicular train to the top of Mt. Paektu. In the DPRK, many companies and brands are named after Korean geographic place names — in this case the funicular train has been named after Mt. Paektu’s Hyangdo Peak. 18 September 2015 12:00 noon

Carl De Keyzer – Mt. Paektu, Ryanggang Province. Taking the Hyangdobong funicular train to the top of Mt. Paektu. In the DPRK, many companies and brands are named after Korean geographic place names — in this case the funicular train has been named after Mt. Paektu’s Hyangdo Peak. 18 September 2015 12:00 noon

Carl De Keyzer - Painting of President Kim Il Sung, with people from around the world, in the lobby of the March 8th (International Women’s Day) Hotel. The hotel’s eccentric decor was partially provided by a South Korean furniture baron who was born in Sariwon and moved south during the Korean War. 3 November 2015 4.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer – Painting of President Kim Il Sung, with people from around the world, in the lobby of the March 8th (International Women’s Day) Hotel. The hotel’s eccentric decor was partially provided by a South Korean furniture baron who was born in Sariwon and moved south during the Korean War. 3 November 2015 4.00 PM

Carl De Keyzer - Panmunjom Truce Village. Kaesong. Soldiers from North and South Korea.. Soldiers are only deployed if there are visitors on their respective side. The exception is when a high-level visitor visits one of the sides, such as an American Secretary of State, or someone of similar status. 5 November 2015 10:00 AM

Carl De Keyzer – Panmunjom Truce Village. Kaesong. Soldiers from North and South Korea.. Soldiers are only deployed if there are visitors on their respective side. The exception is when a high-level visitor visits one of the sides, such as an American Secretary of State, or someone of similar status. 5 November 2015 10:00 AM

All images: Carl De Keyzer. All captions: Koryo Tours. Text and images approved by Pyongyang. Used with permission.

 

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