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Christian Åslund’s Captivating Photos from North Korea

Christian Åslund, who visited North Korea in the fall of 2011, when it was still under the rule of Kim Jong-il, has called his experience there “surreal.” The photographer was taken on a highly selective tour, guided through places deemed to reflect a suitable image of the country. In an email to Slate, he recalls seeing “[t]emples, fancy hotels, the pristine nature, a supermarket, the national library, a hospital, a war museum, schools, a pizzeria, the subway in the capital, Pyongyang, some cooperative farms and private houses.” Along with this restrictive route, he found there was little to photograph besides the ubiquitous portraits of Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il.

Nonetheless, Åslund’s sober but beguiling photos speak of his own limited experience of North Korea, and perhaps reveal much about the country – the images of monuments are often taken off-center, and he seems to be more concerned with the quotidian, with the people walking past these icons and not the icons themselves. Åslund was kind enough to send us a selection of photos from the series; page through them below, and visit his website to learn more about his work.

Photo credit: Christian Åslund

Photo credit: Christian Åslund

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