North Korea as you've never seen it before

North Korea as you've never seen it before

Photographs taken from inside North Korea give a rare glimpse of everyday life for its residents.

Two Associated Press photojournalists, Eric Talmadge and David Guttenfelder, were granted unprecedented access to travel across the country - while accompanied by a minder at all times, of course.

Their photos from the trip provide some insight into life as a citizen in the North and come in stark contrast to the propaganda released by the state, where leader Kim Jong-un invariably takes centre stage.

Outside of the city limits, the pair found passenger cars and Pyongyang license plates were so rare that their car led passing police to assume they were officials and salute them.

Talmadge recounted a landscape that was “somehow preindustrial” further into the countryside.

“Villagers washed their clothes in rivers while barefoot children splashed and played. Old folks, in no hurry to be anywhere else, socialized under trees,” he said.

“And while the fashion set in Pyongyang obsesses over where to find the latest high heels, the countryside maintains a classically utilitarian look. The olive green work suit. The reliable rubber boot.”

No matter where they went, they received the same reaction from those living there.

“It's quite possible none of them had ever seen an American before. But our presence went unacknowledged. No glances were exchanged. No words were spoken.”

Portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are illuminated on a building side as the sun rises over Pyongyang.

Farmers walk in a rainstorm with their cattle near the town of Hyesan, North Korea in Ryanggang province

A group of young North Koreans enjoys a picnic on the beach in Wonsan, North Korea

Young North Korean schoolchildren help to fix pot holes in a rural road in North Korea's North Hamgyong province

North Korean men share a picnic lunch and North Korean-brewed and bottled Taedonggang beer along the road in North Korea's North Hwanghae province

Boys play soccer in the town of Hyesan in North Korea's Ryanggang province

North Korean people rest next to the railroad tracks in a town in North Korea's North Hamgyong province

You can read the full account of their journey from Pyongyang to the outermost regions of countryside here.

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