I first went to North Korea in 2008. At this time, there were no mobile phones in the country, and the only pics people were taking were thanks to the official photographers who stood at the entrance of the main monuments to sell some photo souvenirs to visitors.

I first thought about making Polaroids just as a kind of artistic work, to keep the dull colors of this country, but quickly I discovered this camera was the best way to make contacts with locals and to break the ice.

Every time I was taking a polaroid, I was taken another one I offered to my North Korean "model". So many times, this allowed me to see North Koreans in a very different way, and to start some conversations, through my guide, of course. Something that was not allowed in 2008.

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#1

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

I had the chance to meet some triplets in Nampho orphanage. There are a lot of twins and triplets in orphanages. The official reason is that parents cannot afford to raise 2 or 3 kids at same time. Some say that they represent a kind of magic for the Leaders and that the parents do not have the choice to keep them at home. I took a polaroid of the triplets and asked the orphanage director to give the picture to the parents, but I understood they were living very far away and that there were few chances they could receive the picture of their children.

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nanashi 2 years ago

beautiful children

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#2

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

In Pyongyang, I took the polaroids of the girls working at a restaurant, then the owner came and asked for one, in English! She was the wife of a high rank North Korean diplomat. She had lived in NYC for 2 years. She found the Americans very fat but nice people. She became very talkative as she was so happy with her picture.

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Bobby Clemente 2 years ago

We are fat!

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#3

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Miss Kim, she was a perfect French speaking guide at the War Museum. I met her 5 times during my trips, she kept on telling me she learned French in Pyongyang university. In fact, I learned later that she spent her childhood in Algeria where her father was a diplomat. But for the propaganda it was better to say that you can learn perfect French in North Korea!

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T 2 years ago

Does this photographer realize the danger to this woman by saying she lied?

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#4

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Her job is to sell some flowers that the visitors, including the tourists, will lay in front of the Leaders' statues in Mansudae hill in Pyongyang. 3 euros the flowers. As soon as you put the flowers on the monument, an old lady comes, take the flowers, and resells them!

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Benj 1 year ago

I want to know what would happen if you just bought the flowers because you wanted some, and didn't lay them at the feet of their dict- ...er... leaders?

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#5

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Every new couple comes to Mansudea hill to pay respect to the dear Leaders' statues in Pyongyang on the day of their wedding. By looking at their face, this does not look like a happy time! They are very serious. The guide told me that they were moved to visit the statue of the Leader. But after seeing their faces on Polaroids, they started to smile and even laugh, forgetting the etiquette!

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Ana T. 2 years ago

well her expression said it all , in her wedding she is force to stand like an animal in a zoo disgusting. why you people still trying to make north korea as something normal??? clearly this people aren't happy because they AREN'T FREE!!

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#6

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

On a Sunday afternoon, on the Taedong river in Pyongyang, the North Koreans come to have a BBQ or a picnic, a very different atmosphere, with lots of Soju (rice alcohol) and lots of smiles.

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lalexandra12 2 years ago

Pyongyang is a completely governmentally organized representation of North Korea, and only those deemed "healthy" looking or of a certain wealth are allowed to live in the city, and even still a select few may interact with tourists. Please, everyone read "Nothing to Envy" - it is based on direct narratives from North Koreans who were fortunate enough to be able to deflect to China/South Korea or escape. The perception visitors are allowed to see is a complete false reality, fully under the control of the government, from those living in Pyongyang, to the guides that interact with tourists. The rest of the country is in famine, trapped, and powerless in fear, it's very shocking that this has gone on for so many years. I appreciate the point of view your are capturing in your polaroids, but please be careful in perpetuating the myth that the North Korean government wishes the rest of the world to believe.

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#7

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Guards inside the subway taking care of the arrivals and departures of the wagons. Usually, they act like little robots, for the Polaroids they become humans!

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Becky Miranti 2 years ago

What are they holding?

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#8

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

In the countryside: bikes and farms. No cars, nothing else.

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Bobby Clemente 2 years ago

That looks a lot like rural Japan except the lack of vehicles...

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#9

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

A picture taken in the countryside, as in Pyongyang, depending on the mood of the Leaders, riding a bike is not possible for women, not aesthetic. In the countryside, there is no choice to move from one point to another…

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Crystal El 2 years ago

this is fantastic m i have always thought that none is allowed in north korea how come evryone is related to a diplomat in disguise

#10

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

When visiting some houses, I asked the people where they wanted to stand for the picture, everybody answered: "Below the dear Leaders' portraits". Once, I had to do the Polaroid again as the Leaders portraits were cut. Unacceptable.

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Joe Dad 2 years ago

So sad. These North Koreans were so badly brainwashed.

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#11

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

A cook in a restaurant in Pyongyang with a Hello Kitty apron. She does not know about this character, she thought it was North Korean.

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Jodi Tuscana 2 years ago

They get hand downs from China and whatever makes it way from South Korea. They get more help from china than what they let on

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#12

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

During a visit in a kindergarten in Hamhung, in the sleeping room for the kids.

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Anilda 2 years ago

A picture tells a 1000 words...

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#13

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Two North Korean guides at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum (aka the War Museum) in Pyongyang. For two hours they explained with tons of lies the glorious victories of North Korea against the American imperialists, very seriously. Then when I suggested to make a Polaroid, they became very shy and smiling.

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Azure Adams 2 years ago

you see what they want you to in the DPRK. ITS ALL A FABRICATION

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#14

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

A North Korean colonel with a soldier on the DMZ, in the part where you can see South Korea through binoculars. First, he refused to pause, but when he saw the Polaroid of one soldier, he ordered me to take one of him too.

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John L 2 years ago

Hey Comrade, you forgot the Magic Word. :D

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#15

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

My guide asked me to throw away this Polaroid as I took the picture from the back. It is forbidden to take the picture with this angle in North Korea. Not respectful for the bronze heroes.

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#16

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Waitress playing accordion in a restaurant. This is a tradition, once they have finished serving food, they all come to sing. Pyongyang.

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Maureen Zappellini 2 years ago

My heart aches for these oppressed people- a lesson to avoid egomaniacal dictators ruling your country! Oh....yeah....um...

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#17

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Nurses in a kindergarden Nampo.

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Bobby Clemente 2 years ago

They're humans too, no matter how our politicians and media want to make them into demon$$$ all for war.

#18

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Woman in a park.

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Cathy Binder 2 years ago

she's wearing slack. she's a badass.

#19

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

A colonel on the DMZ. He was speaking about peace, about the oppression of the Americans, and the day after the meeting North Korea was making a nuclear test! He asked to have one Polaroid in front of the South Korean building to show his wife where he was working.

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#20

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Women working in a Highway restaurant near Pyongyang. They see very few people during the day, it's a boring job. First, I thought they were flight attendants. This was the first time they saw a Polaroid, so I had to make one for each one.

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Maureen Zappellini 2 years ago

This comment is hidden. Click here to view.

This is a double entry- you may want to take one out of the list

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#21

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Woman playing bowling in Pyongyang.

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Valentin Badea 2 years ago

K deff a lot of smoke shows in Dpk

#22

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

View from the Yanggakdo hotel in Pyongyang. In 2008, you could sleep with the window open, there were no cars at this time in town.

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#23

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Nurse in a kindergarden, Nampo.

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Edi IP 2 years ago

i think, times goes so slowly here, maybe...

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#24

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Waitresses in a restaurant in Pyongyang.

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#25

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

The DMZ from the North Korean side. As there were no South Korean soldiers or American soldiers on the other side, the guide said that they were afraid to be seen. Cowards, he said.

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Veronica Loraine 2 years ago

I've been here. The SK soldiers move around, but all guards face North. The NK soldiers face North to keep their citizen in. It's strange.

#26

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Woman working in a subway in Pyongyang.

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nanashi 2 years ago

while many of the people relaxed and smiled shyly when getting their picture taken, this one is still on work mode. I do this too.

#27

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Accordion classroom in Mangyongdae Schoolchildren's Palace, in Pyongyang. The visit that every tourist does. The guide opens the door and for 30 seconds you can see accordion, dance, singing, calligraphy… The guide keeps on telling: "We are late, we are late…"

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#28

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Decoration in the bowling in Pyongyang. A good place to visit to see North Korea having fun and having dates. Tinder is not yet in North Korea.

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#29

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Young guard in a museum in Pyongyang.

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Anna Thouvenin 2 years ago

She is so beautiful *_*

#30

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

North Korean Army Parade in Pyongyang. It was a rehearsal. Each man has a number on his uniform and an officer shouts orders to the ones who are not in the good tempo.

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#31

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Worker woman in the mineral water factory of Nampo. The guide was so proud to show us this factory that visited President Mitterand before he was elected in France. But in fact the sound of the machines was incredibly loud and aggressive, and everybody was sorry for this young worker who had to stand there during our touristic visit. She was forbidden to leave her position to take the Polaroid I did. She had it at the end of his day job.

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T 2 years ago

This person isn't a "worker" they are a slave. Please pray for them.

#32

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Woman in front of flowers in Pyongyang.

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#33

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Monument in Pyongyang.

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#34

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

In 2008, there was just the statue of Kim Il Sung in Mansudae hill, then they put the Kim Jong il statue when he died.

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Bobby Clemente 2 years ago

Kim Jong License to Il!

#35

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Mansudae hill. It is not common to have nobody there...

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#36

I Introduced Polaroid In North Korea

Colonel at the DMZ.

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