The Photos North Korea Does Not Want You To See

January 25, 2016

The fact that there is a country with millions of people that we know so little about is fascinating and slightly terrifying.

Thanks to French photographer Eric Lafforgue, who has been to North Korea several times, we can shed some light on the secluded country. This is his album of North Korea that got him banned from ever returning...

"This soldier was sleeping in a field. This picture really contributed to me getting banned from the country."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"A woman standing in the middle of a crowd of soldiers. This picture is not supposed to be taken as officials do not allow army pictures."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"The North Korean army is said to be one of the most important in the world. But if you travel there, you'll often see soldiers doing menial tasks like helping farmers."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Outside urban areas, such a scene is fairly common."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Pyongyang's subway system is the deepest in the world as it doubles as a bomb shelter. Someone saw me taking this picture and told me to delete it since it included the tunnel."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"The North Korean officials hate when you take this kind of picture. Even when I explain that poverty exists all around the world, in my own country as well, they forbid me from taking pictures of the poor."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"When times are hard (as they usually are here), kids can be found working for the farming collectives."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"For a long time, bans against black market sales have been strictly enforced. Grey market vendors are more common. They earn a little money selling cigarettes or sweets."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"On the day of the Kimjongilia festival, thousands of North Koreans must queue up to visit various monuments."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Pyongyang is supposed to be the showcase of North Korea, so building exteriors are carefully maintained. When you get a rare chance to look inside, the bleak truth becomes apparent."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"As cars have become more widespread in Pyongyang, the peasants are still getting accustomed to seeing them. Kids play in the middle of the main avenues just like before when there were no cars in sight."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"One night, on the way back to the hotel my bus had to take an alternate route due to street closures. As we passed by old buildings, the guides asked me not to shoot with flash. The official reason was to avoid scaring people."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"A visit to a rural home. Those houses and the families who live there are carefully selected by the government. But sometimes, a detail like a bathroom used as a cistern shows that times are hard."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Public transportation connecting the main towns is nearly non-existent. Citizens need permits to go from one place to another. On the highways, you can spot soldiers hitchhiking."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Showing poverty is forbidden, but displaying wealth is also a big taboo in North Korea. In a park on a Sunday afternoon, I found this car that belongs to one of Pyongyang's elite. The owners were having a BBQ."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"It is forbidden to take pictures of soldiers relaxing."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"It is also forbidden to photograph malnutrition."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"You can find all kinds of food and drink in Pyongyang's two supermarkets where things are sold in both euros and wins. They even have Evian water. Only the elite can shop there."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"It's not a circus, they are workers in a country with low safety standards."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"When visiting the delphinium in Pyongyang, you can photograph the animals, but not the soldiers who make up 99 per cent of the crowd."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Paranoia is strong in North Korean minds. I took this picture at a funfair of a tired mother and child resting on a bench. I was asked to delete the picture since the guides were certain I would have said those people were homeless."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"This is never supposed to happen: a broom standing on the base of Kim Il Sung's statue in Mansudae, in Pyongyang."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"This kind of picture is widespread in the west. The caption often explains that North Koreans eat grass from the park. The guides get furious if you take it."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"When you visit families, the guides love it if you take pics to show the world that kids have computers. But when they see there is no electricity, then they ask you to delete."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"It is absolutely forbidden to take a picture of the Kim statues from the back. It is considered very rude."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"Queuing is a national sport for North Koreans. This is the line for the bus."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"This is what happens when the bus breaks down."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

"In the art centre of Pyongyang, we experienced a power outage, a daily event the North Koreans hate to show. When it happens, they tell you it's because of the American embargo."

The photos North Korea does not want you to see
Photo credit: Eric Lafforgue

Visit EricLafforgue.com for more amazing photos or check out his work on Flickr.

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