Archive: Arirang Mass Games
This North Korean spectacle involves 100,000 participants

This North Korean spectacle involves 100,000 participants

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005 1
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag has made it his mission to provide the world glimpses of social, historical and political developments of North Korea, which many people do not get to see. Noh produces photographs that record real-life situations that are directly linked to the division of Korea. Some of his works were in particular created to show how deeply the division between the North and South has permeated the daily lives of the Korean citizenry, as well as how the division has distorted the proper functioning of society.

North Korea is a particular subject that is constant in Noh’s themes. North Korea’s obsession with image and the way the country represents itself to the rest of the world by exaggerated manipulation of its images led to Noh’s fascination; in his photo series titled North Korea, Suntag’s photos observe conflict in the contemporary society in Korea.

The conflicts date all the way back to 1948, and they led to the division of Korea into two separate states. Noh perceives the two ideologies of both the north and the south as too extreme, in a manner that has led to a constant state of emergency in Korea. Noh shows this dichotomy through his photographs, highlighting the dictatorship in North Korea, the increased capitalism that has been experienced in South Korea, the high military presence in both countries, and the circumstances both subtle and violent that affect the daily lives of the people living there.

His photographs in North Korea also analyses the social and political ambivalence of the two countries. In this case, the two nations survive in ideological extremities with each other, despite sharing many social and cultural traditions. The presence of political disparities between the two countries, whereby one is an communist state while the other is a capitalist is also highlighted significantly in the North Korea series. Noh also visited the famous Arirang Mass Games in the capital Pyongyang, a national spectacle that involves up to 100,000 participants.

For this work, Noh employed his experience as a remarkable photojournalist, his education in political studies and his creativity to capture the quiet scenes that both reveal the truth and dispel myths about the partition between North Korea and South Korea that exists to this day.

Noh’s views in his pieces including Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005 and the State of Emergency, 2000–07 are unbiased. His analytical position recognizes the lasting political division and polarization of both the government and society. He expertly manages to tie the two nations together while exposing the underlying humanity that encompasses normal life in both the north and south.

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House I. North Korea in North Korea, 2005

Noh Suntag - Red House II. Give and Take, 2005
Noh Suntag Red House II. Give and Take, 2005


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Segregated from the rest of the world, eerie North Korea

Segregated from the rest of the world, eerie North Korea

Philippe Chancel - DPRK - North Korea
Philippe Chancel – DPRK

Philippe Chancel’s photographs from North Korea are simply remarkable. Chancel joins the ranks of the few photographers in the world that have actually managed to document the impenetrable nation of North Korea. For more than half a century, this enigma of a country has been the personification of a rogue state; North Korea is an incredibly closed and reclusive nation.

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How North Korea likes to present itself to the world

How North Korea likes to present itself to the world

Philippe Chancel - Arirang, May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2006
Philippe Chancel – Arirang, May Day Stadium, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2006

Every year, North Korea holds a lavish and extravagant celebration for its ruler known as the Arirang celebrations. The Arirang celebrations can be classified in the same category as the Olympic celebrations. The audience is always treated to a highly choreographed show, the likes of which have only ever been seen at the Olympics.

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Sensational photos of North Korea’s mass games – Andreas Gursky

Sensational photos of North Korea’s mass games – Andreas Gursky

andreas-gursky-pyongyang-I1
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang I, 2007, c-print, 307 x 215,5cm
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Renowned for his large-format color photographs charting themes of globalized society at work and play, Andreas Gursky’s production employs the digital technology to capture and refine an astounding compilation of detail on an epic scale. The perspective in many of Gursky’s photographs is drawn from an elevated vantage point. This position enables the viewer to encounter scenes, encompassing both center and periphery, which are ordinarily beyond reach.

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