A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea's Secretive Borders
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders

A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders

Jacob Miller - October 2, 2017

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea, officially describes itself as a self-reliant socialist state. Juche, the ideology of national self-reliance, was introduced into the constitution in 1972. The means of production are owned by the state, healthcare, education, housing, and food production are all subsidized by the state or are state-funded.

North Korea governing policies follow the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System:

  1. We must give our all in the struggle to unify the entire society with the revolutionary ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il-sung.
  2. We must honor the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung with all our loyalty.
  3. We must make absolute the authority of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung.
  4. We must make the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung’s revolutionary ideology our faith and make his instructions our creed.
  5. We must adhere strictly to the principle of unconditional obedience in carrying out the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung’s instructions.
  6. We must strengthen the entire party’s ideology and willpower and revolutionary unity, centering on the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung.
  7. We must learn from the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung and adopt the communist look, revolutionary work methods, and people-oriented work style.
  8. We must value the political life we were given by the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung, and loyally repay his great political trust and thoughtfulness with heightened political awareness and skill.
  9. We must establish strong organizational regulations so that the entire party, nation and military move as one under the one and only leadership of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung.
  10. We must pass down the great achievement of the revolution by the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung from generation to generation, inheriting and completing it to the end.

North Korea follows the Sungun, ‘military-first’ policy. North Korea has the highest number of military personnel with 9.5 million active, reserve, and paramilitary soldiers.

Despite the official title as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” the political system is more aptly described as an absolute monarchy.

A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Due to a famine hitting the country because of international trade sanctions, North Koreans live off of food rations from the government. The government claims that they provide their citizens with all that they need but in reality, as this photo which was secretly taken of a grocery store proves, this is not necessarily the case. This Pyongyang supermarket is for the above average (although not elite) North Korean, and shows the paltry offerings on hand, mainly apples, turnips, and leeks. kiwireport
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This photo is a true window into Pyongyang and the political smokescreen it upholds. Those beautiful skyscrapers are not representative of anywhere else in the country. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The morning skyline of North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang. This photo was taken from the Yanggakdo Hotel. The pointed building is the unopened Ryugyong Hotel. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Uniformed traffic ladies are iconic in North Korea and their profession is highly respected. Their movements are definitive and militaristic and they hold authority over the road like a traffic light. Traffic ladies will salute those vehicles driven by Worker’s Party of Korea delegates, indicated by their number plates. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is the military checkpoint at Panmunjom within the DMZ. In the distance, you can spot the infamous 160m flagpole erected inside the village of Kijong-dong. Kijong-dong is referred to by South Korea as ‘propaganda village’, built to lure South Korean soldiers to defect across to the North during the 1950’s. The village can be seen with binoculars from South Korea and despite North Korea’s claims of Kijong-dong being an inhabited collective farm, evidence suggests the buildings are empty concrete shells with lighting on timers to give the impression of activity. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Bicycles are the primary means of transport in North Korea. Cars represent an astronomical expense for the average North Korean and it’s cost prohibitive to purchase one. Gasoline shortages make them further expensive to run. This photo was taken in Wonsan. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
A 50m-long monument on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang depicting the Anti-Japanese Revolutionary Struggle. Men, women, and children; soldiers, intellectuals or farmers – everyone fought for the successful liberation of Korea from the Japanese. The scale of this monument is truly massive, each figure is on average 5 meters high. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
“Total concentration, total mobilization. All head to the harvest battle!” A propaganda billboard motivating this years ‘harvest battle’, a campaign where soldiers, office workers, laborers and even elementary school students are mobilized into the countryside for farm work. This is to boost agriculture productivity before winter hits. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, otherwise known as the Mausoleum. Inside this building, President Kim Il-Sung and General Kim Jong-Il lie in state, embalmed inside clear glass sarcophagi for public viewing. You’re required to bow with sincerity at the feet and at both sides of each Great Leader, but not at the head. Visitations are only possible on certain days, formal dress is required and you’ll go through metal detectors, shoe cleaners, and industrial-grade dust blowers. Earthnuthsell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
A monument of President Kim Il-Sung on Janam Hill in Kaesong. This is the best vantage point of the city, with a magnificent view of Kaesong’s old town filled with preserved traditional-style housing. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Construction apparatus of this kind are commonplace throughout the entire country. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Dog meat soup. I passed. There were many specialty dog meat soup restaurants in Pyongyang, it’s so prevalent that the North Korean government regulates the price. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Farmers receiving ‘on-the-spot guidance’ from President Kim Il-Sung. This photo was taken en route to the rarely visited south-west city of Haeju. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This photo was taken outside Kaesong, adjacent to the ‘Reunification Highway’ leading to Pyongyang. There were four military checkpoints between Pyongyang and Kaesong. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The main ministerial building in Kim Il-Sung Square, Pyongyang. Translations- “Long live our glorious Songun (military-first) revolutionary idea!” and “Long live our Democratic People’s Republic!” Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is a us transporting party members through the countryside. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Young Korean People’s Army recruits just after bowing to the Great Leaders at the Mansudae Grand Monument on Mansu Hill. In the distance, you can see one of Pyongyang’s most recognizable icons, the Monument to the Korean Workers Party. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is Puhung Station, the terminus of the Chollima line. Prior to 2010, Puhung was one of just two metro stations that foreign visitors were permitted to visit, even with mandatory guides. The other is Yonggwang Station and it’s just one stop ahead. Both stations were the final two to be completed and are regarded as the most lavish, likely the reason they’re chosen as the showcase stations on tourism itineraries. The mural to the back is entitled ‘The Great Leader Kim Il-Sung Among Workers’. Earthnuthshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is Yonggwang Station, the second and final stop for most tourists of the past. This arbitrary restriction spawned conspiracy theories that the Pyongyang Metro was merely two stations in total, and that the well-dressed commuters were just actors assigned to delude visitors into the impression of an extensive public transport system that didn’t actually exist. As an aside, the murals on each wall here are a massive eighty meters long. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Free-trade is illegal in North Korea. Sort-of. A black-market emerged after the ‘Arduous March’ (North Korean famine) in the 90’s, which has slowly become a tolerated grey-market with designated, regulated areas for market activity. These areas are named the ‘jangmadang’ and there are over 500 of them in North Korea. As a tourist, you won’t see a jangmadang. Traders unable to afford stall space at their local jangmadang endeavor to sell their produce on the street. This is actually illegal, and groups of women like this have been nicknamed ‘grasshopper merchants’ inside North Korea as they must hop around to avoid authorities. This photo was taken in the middle of a dirt road, somewhere between Haeju and Sariwon. Earthnuthshell

A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is the typical restaurant setting inside Pyongyang. As a general rule, the restaurants you dine at as a tourist will be empty with no other expected guests. Karaoke will always be available and murals of holy places such as Mt. Paektu (Paektusan) decorate the interiors. Earthnuthshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
A rural village outside Pyongyang and other major municipalities. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
aengmyeon noodles, a delicacy originating in Pyongyang. It’s a dish served cold with dressing and red chili paste. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Flowers lay at the foot of an exemplary monument of the Great Leaders at the Mansudae Art Studio, Pyongyang. Mansudae Art Studio is the only studio permitted to depict the likeness of the hereditary Kim family. Earthnuthshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The local school bus. Children stack on top of one another for transportation to the state school. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The Pyongyang Times translated into English. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The southern gateway to Pyongyang denoted by the Arch of Reunification. Behind me is a controlled access six-lane highway that heads south to the Demilitarized Zone. Citizens require special permission to live, work or even enter Pyongyang. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
All photos of the Great Leader’s must be in a frame that’s thicker at the top, this way they are always looking down upon those in the room. It’s a legal requirement for these portraits to feature in every household and be regularly cleaned with a special cloth for official inspection by the state. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This is the Pyongyang-Kaesong Motorway (Reunification Highway) providing a direct link to the DMZ. It’s a long, lonely controlled access no man’s land bypassing most rural towns and villages. It’s rough, potholed and poorly maintained but it’s still the best highway in the North Korea outside Pyongyang. There were seven military checkpoints from Pyongyang to DMZ. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Early morning in Kaesong city. Propaganda speeches were loudly blasting into the streets from loudspeakers placed on buildings. There is no vehicular traffic, so the city is eerily quiet except for that melodramatic voice piercing the streets. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
“According to the Party’s leadership, let’s work vigorously to a more prosperous country and homeland!”, “Let’s sweat more for the motherland!”, “What have I dedicated to the country?” A rare look at the North Korean manual labor industry, we were taken to the Hungnam Fertiliser Factory in Hamhung. Earthnuthshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
“The Great Comrade Kim Il-Sung and Comrade Kim Jong-Il will be with us eternally.” A major ministerial building in central Pyongyang. Earthnuthsell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Desolate and austere Communist Apartment blocks. Earthnuthshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
Mount Kumgang (Kumgangsan) is known for its exclusive scenic beauty found nowhere else in North Korea. It’s quite close to the border with South Korea on the south-east coast. Earthnuthsell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
The beautiful autumn woodlands in the untouched countryside of Pujon County. Earthnutshell
A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Secretive Borders
This photo was taken in Sinuiju, North Korea and China can be seen across the water. Earthnutshell

 

Read More:

VOX – Juche, The State Ideology That Makes North Koreans Revere Kim Jong Un

Time Magazine – The Political Philosophy of Juche

Council Foreign Relations – North Korea’s Military Capabilities

Carnegie Endowment – The State of the North Korean Military

BBC Channel – What We Can Expect To See At North Korea’s ‘Biggest Military Parade’

Associate Press – Juche Rules North Korean Propaganda, But What Does It Mean?

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