Eddo Hartmann: Calm photos of Pyongyang, the ultimate socialist city

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North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Pyongyang women 01
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Pyongyang women 01, 2014

Published on: Monday May 22, 2017

Last updated

What is North Korea & Pyongyang known for?

North Korea is known for its fascination and terror in the same measure. Most of the world knows North Korea for its former leader Kim Jong-II and the current Kim Jong Un. However, the fascinating thing about Pyongyang is its architecture.

The destruction of Pyongyang

The whole Korea was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 19101. Then, after World War II the United States took the southern half while USSR took the northern half. Each side propped its government, and there was peace for some time. However, the Northern army attacked the south in 19502. During the war that lasted for three years, the US came to the aid of the South, and literary bombed every town in Northern Korea. Pyongyang was not spared either and was almost entirely destroyed.

Rebuilding the capital after the Korean war

The city was rebuilt after the war. The main style was socialist classicism under an architect called Boris Iofan3. The funds came from Moscow, technical assistance from East Germany and the manpower from China. One of the first buildings to come up was the Kim Il Sung Square4 which is at the heart of Pyongyang. There were a number of other Japanese-era buildings that survived the war too. The leader at the time, Kim II Sung championed for the creation of a great garden of Juche5 architecture in line with the new country’s ideology of self-reliance.

Focus on theater and art

There were several phases of construction that touched on theater and art. The first of them was the Korean Central Historical Museum and the Korean Art Gallery, both of which had interests in new housing. Then came the Pyongyang Grand Theatre when it was time to remodel the Pyongyang streets. As construction went on, there came the Pyongyang Metro which came to completion in 1973. The other theatrical development was the series of monuments that were built in the Mansu Hill Area. The Changgwang Street was then reshaped in 1980, and the Mansudae Assembly Hall rebuilt in 1984. The assembly became the seat of leadership for the country. Other great pieces of art have been built later.

Setting the stage: Pyongyang, North Korea by Eddo Hartmann

Setting the stage: Pyongyang, North Korea is a project by photographer Eddo Hartmann and Koryo Studio. Eddo captured many evocative pictures of landmarks that define the socialist city and the lives of people that live there.

Photos

Exteriors

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Birthday of Kim Il Sung, 2014
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Birthday of Kim Il Sung, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - View Juche Tower
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – View Juche Tower, 2014


Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Pyongyang Skyline, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, 2014
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Mangyongdae Schoolchildren’s Palace, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, 2014
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Kim Il Sung Stadium
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Kim Il Sung Stadium, 2014

Eddo Hartmann - "Pyongyang, The Heart of Korea", sign on building in front of the Central Station, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo Hartmann"Pyongyang, The Heart of Korea", sign on building in front of the Central Station, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - Central District by Night, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannCentral District by Night, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - Electronics Industry Hall, Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannElectronics Industry Hall, Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - October Ten Parade, Tongdaewon Street, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannOctober Ten Parade, Tongdaewon Street, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - Portrait Leaders Somun Street, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannPortrait Leaders Somun Street, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - Propaganda Billboard, Bridge at border of Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannPropaganda Billboard, Bridge at border of Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, 2015

Interiors

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Schoolchildrens Palace Rocket
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Schoolchildrens Palace Rocket, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Portrait of the Leaders - Janamsan
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Portraits of the leaders – Janamsan, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Lobby Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang, 2014
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Lobby Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Entrance Kim Il Sung Stadium
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Entrance Kim Il Sung Stadium, 2014

Eddo Hartmann - Pyongyang, North Korea, 2016
Eddo HartmannPyongyang, North Korea, 2016

Portraits

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Pyongyang women 02
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Pyongyang women 02, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Guide Schoolchildrens Palace Kaeson
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Guide Schoolchildrens Palace Kaeson, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Guide Party foundation Monument
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Guide Party foundation Monument, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Guide Liberation Museum
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Guide Liberation Museum, 2014

Eddo Hartmann - Brilliant Star Rocket, Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang, 2017
Eddo HartmannBrilliant Star Rocket, Three Revolutions Exhibition, Pyongyang, 2017

Eddo Hartmann - Changgwang Visitor, Pyongyang, 2017
Eddo HartmannChanggwang Visitor, Pyongyang, 2017

Eddo Hartmann - Guard in Blue, Kimjongilia Flower Exhibition Hall, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannGuard in Blue, Kimjongilia Flower Exhibition Hall, Pyongyang, 2015

Eddo Hartmann - Gun instructor, Maeri shooting range, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannGun instructor, Maeri shooting range, Pyongyang, 2015

Monuments & Statues

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Stairs Juche Tower
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Stairs Juche Tower, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Party Foundation Monument, 2014
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Party Foundation Monument, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Kim Il Sung Square
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Kim Il Sung Square, 2014

Eddo Hartmann - Arch of Triumph, Pyongyang, 2015
Eddo HartmannArch of Triumph, Pyongyang, 2015

Pyongyang Metro

Eddo Hartmann - The Chollima Line, Metro Pyongyang, 2014
Eddo HartmannThe Chollima Line, Metro, Pyongyang, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - The Rush Hour
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – The Rush Hour, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Statue of Kim Il Sun
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Statue of Kim Il Sung, 2014

North Korea - Setting the Stage - Pyongyang - Portraits of the leaders
Eddo HartmannSetting the Stage: Pyongyang – Portraits of the leaders, 2014

Eddo Hartmann - Escalator guard Pyongyang Metro, 2016
Eddo HartmannEscalator guard Pyongyang Metro, 2016

All images by Eddo Hartmann/eddohartmann.nl unless otherwise noted.

Videos

Eddo Hartmann speaks about his experiences in North Korea

6min 10sec

Interview Eddo Hartmann (English subtitles)

28min 14sec

Making of video: Eddo Hartmann photographing in North Korea

5min 32sec

Related works

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan%E2%80%93Korea_Treaty_of_1910
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War#Course_of_the_war
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Iofan
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Il-sung_Square
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juche
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