David Guttenfelder’s iPhone photos give a rare and intimate glimpse into a backwards, enigmatic world—he photographs North Korea at cell-phone camera range, letting us get close to the reclusive nation’s everyday objects, scenes, and propaganda that most will only ever see on a screen. Guttenfelder is the Associated Press chief Asia photographer and is currently on assignment in North Korea for National Geographic magazine, allowing him rare access to witness the country’s highly secretive happenings.
His captures range from puzzling to eerie to beautiful, but everything is downright fascinating. There’s his recent series of "artifacts," like a DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) flag "friendship pin" for sale to foreign visitors, a bottle of DPRK mushroom booze, and Ginseng tonic meant to treat "diabetes, insomnia, heart disease, neurosis, and ‘importance.’" Then there are the spectral, cinematic black and white captures of young soldiers playing ping pong in Pyongyang or marching in spooky lock-step on Kim Il Sung Square. And then, there are the videos—Guttenfelder is actually able to capture footage of mass events and everyday operations within the country, like one particularly bizarre clip of North Koreans wailing en masse and waving pink flowers at their leader Kim Jong Un while walking in a mass military parade.
It’s a truly unique look into a foreign world most will never get to—or want to—see firsthand. Definitely follow Guttenfelder’s Instagram if you want to stretch your view of the world.
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