Khairul Jaffar  |  Singapore
Published 2014-02-11 15:30:22

North Korea is usually in the media spotlight for more ominous reasons. Aggressive political manoeuvres in 2013 and grisly solutions to family troubles have only served to propagate the negative perceptions of the country. Despite holding the doors to its borders open a bit wider, North Korea remains an enigmatic nation and glimpses into daily life of North Koreans continue to fascinate us all.

Recently, Singaporean Aram Pan offered the world a unique look into North Korean life with his panoramic photographs.

Singaporean Aram Pan
Singaporean Aram Pan

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the 37 year old freelance photographer has acknowledged that there are hopes that this first in a series of planned trips can somehow promote understanding between North Korea and the rest of the world.

He remains optimistic even though some have dismissed his sanctioned photos as trying to pander to state interests. He has maintained that he has no political motivations and it is the prerogative of others to interpret and infer the nature of the trips as they please.

The recent set of panoramic photographs that have garnered world-wide attention is part of his DPRK 360 project. This trip was made possible by a number of sponsors.

Mr. Pan also arranged his trip on the up-and up with the government, mindful of the fact that he wants to make future trips, perhaps with increased access to various locations to increase the comprehensiveness of his project. Contrary to popular belief, he experienced little censorship in his trip and most of his requests on his guided tours were granted.

north korea

arch of reunification

arch of triumph

korean 1

korean 2

mansudae fountain park

north korea subway

north korea

north korean photo

traffic marshal

Despite recent political tensions, the number of tourists to the closeted country have increased.

This project and these photos reflect a rising interest in the secretive culture that is North Korea, even if it is widely accepted that much of what we see is still carefully curated to present the country in the best possible light. Whatever the ramifications, they are extraneous in nature and do not detract from the photographer’s distinctive method in documenting what is usually an elusive subject.

For more pictures from and information on Aram Pan’s DPRK 360 project, you can visit his website at the link or the project’s Facebook page. It is advised that for a better understanding of the project, one should view the photo albums that can be found  as well. The photos provide an even more intimate look as they capture the faces and facets of North Korea, from the grandiose to the generic nature of everyday life.

Also read: North Korea: Sad or Scary?

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