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Fascinating Photos Compare Public Spaces in North and South Korea

Dieter Leistner

Street scene in Pyongyang, North Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Street scene in Insa-dong, South Korea © Dieter Leistner

Until recently, photographic views of North Korea were as controlled as the region itself. With Korea—Korea (Gestalten), the German photographer Dieter Leistner, who obtained special permission to photograph in Pyongyang outside of the normal, highly supervised structure, has made a fascinating comparative study of the capital cities of North and South Korea.

Leistner applied his particular vision as an architectural photographer to Pyongyang, North Korea, and Seoul, South Korea, in 2006, and 2012 respectively, to capture the apparent dichotomy between the two places. Although not all pairs are exact comparisons, they have much to communicate with their interaction, and it is immediately apparent which is north and which is south with most pairs. Leistner, who grew up in Germany, has a unique view of this divided nation, coming from a country divided as recently as 25 years ago, seems a distant, unfathomable memory.

Dieter Leistner

Pyongyang Metro, North Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Seoul Metropolitan Subway, South Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Geumsusan Palace and Kim Il Sung Mausoleum, North Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Statue of King Sejong in Gwanghwamun Square (in front of Gyeongbok Palace), South Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Policewoman on Janggwang Street, North Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Hat seller on Insa-dong Street, South Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

View from the Grand People’s Study House, North Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

Gyeongbok Palace, South Korea © Dieter Leistner

Dieter Leistner

‘Korea—Korea’ by Dieter Leistner, published by Gestalten.

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