Belgian photographer Maxime Delvaux spent 12 days in North Korea exploring the power of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s ubiquitous propaganda. Photographers are not very welcome, so it pays to play the tourist card. As a tourist you can visit sites and take pictures, however not without permanent guides and a driver. Delvaux shot these with a 4×5, often with a watchful eye over what he was shooting. Mikhail Kissine, an assistant professor at the University of Brussels speaks eloquently about the project:
Catching from the corner of the eye the sight of what might be a hungry child isn’t necessary to understand the madness of the regime. The few people in the surrounding emptiness give the scale of the buildings; the sober explanations, provided by the regime itself, give the scale of the folly. We don’t need to be told that the cooperative shop isn’t available to a starving population: one should be scared of a regime that builds to foul visitors. What Maxime Delvaux’s photos show is very real. Sufficiently real, indeed, to gently distillate a disturbing feeling.
Propaganda works insidiously, or else it would be useless. So, if at first you only feel slightly amused, if it takes you a while to understand what it means for a country to display this, it’s all right. This is what these photos are for.
Entrance door of the demilitarized zone in the former village of Panmunjom where the armistice of the Korean war was signed between Korea and the United nations. The mosaic symbolizes North Korean’s will of reunification.
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