Photographer captures photos of North Koreans’ daily life in summertime — and it’s bleak

With an authoritarian regime that lasted over seven decades, North Korea remains one of the most closed-off countries in the world.

It may soon become even more so as the Trump administration prepares to pass a ban on American travel to the country after North Korea detained a US student and returned him to his family in a coma with neurological trauma, which later took his life.

For the few visitors who made it to North Korea, the poverty, outdated infrastructure, and tight government control, largely shocked them.

But even in the strictest of government regimes, people still find ways to go through their lives. Here is how some North Koreans spent the last few days in July:


Associated Press photographer Wong Maye-E has been documenting life in North Korea since 2013. Even though she is accompanied by a government minder at all times, she still manages to capture candid moments such as this one.

Source: Associated Press and TIME


North Koreans start their days early, as approximately 59% of the population works outside the home.

caption
A man looks out the window of a double decker bus at the end of a work day on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, in Pyongyang, North Korea.
source
Wong Maye-E

Source: The Guardian


At school, North Korean children are taught patriotic songs, salute portraits of current leader Kim Jong-Un, and study the life of former leader Kim Il-Sung closely.

Source: The Guardian


Many North Koreans live in densely-packed high-rise apartments such as this one. Many buildings see frequent shortages in electricity and elevator breakdowns.

Source: Associated Press


Most of the country’s cars belong to state organizations — ordinary citizens usually bike, walk or take public transit to work.

Source: The Guardian


The Grand People’s Study House is Pyongyang’s central library and one of the only places in the country with public access to intranet, North Korea’s closed-off computer network system.

Source: Associated Press and BBC


Despite the high number of white-collar workers, most North Korean offices operate without internet or even computers.

Source: The Guardian


North Koreans also come to the library for classes, such as the Chinese language class in the photo below.


While the country has few restaurants or cafes, larger offices have canteens where workers can eat lunch or buy snacks.

Source: The Guardian


In recent years, North Korea has seen an increase in food shortages. Two in five North Koreans are undernourished while basic staples such as soy sauce, eggs, meat, and cooking oil are sometimes hard to come by in local stores.

Source: BBC and The Guardian


The poverty is even more abject in the North Korean countryside.

Source: Business Insider


Former bomb squad member Jong Il Hyon, 44, has this photo of an unexploded bomb his team found near the railway running from Hamhung from Pyongyang.

Source: Associated Press


North Koreans still occasionally find bombs and mortar rounds from the Korean War that started in 1953.

Source: Associated Press


In the North Korean provinces, people often go swimming in streams and rivers.

Source: Associated Press


With few cars, highly-regulated entertainment venues (Pyongyang has about 8 cinemas in total), and frequent electricity shortages, most North Koreans go to bed early.

Source: The Guardian