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Instagram pics show life inside North Korea

David Guttenfelder, Associated Press’s chief photographer in Asia, is posting from inside Pyongyang. Fascinating.

Caricatures of American and Japanese soldiers in a Pyongyang classroom, North Korea.
Caricatures of American and Japanese soldiers in a Pyongyang classroom, North Korea.
Image: David Guttenfelder/AP via Instagram

JUST LAST MONTH, North Korea’s local service provider Koryolink started allowing foreigners to access the internet on their mobile phones for the first time ever.

David Guttenfelder, the Associated Press’ chief photographer in Asia, immediately began posting pictures from inside Pyongyang to his Instagram account. They quickly went viral.

The pictures show snapshots of daily life in the country’s capital, from propaganda posters lining the streets to what bar food looks like in Pyongyang.

A veteran photographer and World Press Photo Award winner, Guttenfelder has traveled to North Korea more than 20 times since first accompanying former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000 when she met the now-deceased leader, Kim Jong Il. “During that trip, we were told not to take photos from the bus we travelled in and my hotel window was covered with a black plastic sheet,” Guttenfelder wrote on his blog.

Today, he is able to upload his images in real-time to his 74,000 followers.

“I feel I can help open a window into a place that would otherwise rarely be seen by outsiders,” he said on the Instagram blog. “As one of the few international photographers who has ever had regular access to the country, I feel a huge responsibility to share what I see and to show it as accurately as I can.”

But so far, the new change will only affect visiting foreigners — North Koreans do not have access to the new internet service.

Instagram pics show life inside North Korea
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  • The Grand People's Study House, where students work in winter coats

  • A view from the Grand People's Study House looking towards two Kim mosaics and a 3,000-unit apartment complex

  • Tending to infants in the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital

  • An inflight meal on Air Koryo, North Korea's airline

  • Lights flash in an empty karaoke room in Pyongyang

  • A bear sits on concrete at a Pyongyang zoo

  • Caricatures of American and Japanese soldiers in a schoolroom

  • Commuters and propaganda posters in the capital

  • Bar snacks in Pyongyang

  • Schoolboys play with Guttenfelder's camera at a monument called Mansu Hill

  • Winter in Ryongsan-ri, a North Korean village south of Pyongyang

  • A mass synchronised swimming performance in Pyongyang

  • "A pin over the heart of every North Korean citizen"

  • Anti-USA propoganda on the state-run news: "DPRK vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the US."

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