Photos of North Korean children

From the inside: Rare photos of North Korea

by Michael

Update June, 2017: Since our visit to North Korea in 2011, the recent death of American tourist Otto Warmbier, who was detained while visiting the country, is a tragic situation that is inexcusable. Accordingly, despite our feelings that tourism in North Korea has positive benefits by exposing the North Korean people to visitors from the outside world, we can no longer recommend that Americans visit the country. It is too easy for the DPRK to make them pawns for continuing tensions between the two countries.


Photos of North Korea

North Korea is a fascinating country that is truly like no other place on Earth.  Traveling to the last vestige of the Cold War is like entering both a time warp and a distorted hall of mirrors. However, while the regime spouts a continuous stream of propaganda at its citizens, the people were friendly and gracious, the same as people everywhere. We were particularly entranced by the children who ranged from curious to shy to just plain goofy, like any group of kids.  Here are some photos of North Korea from our recent trip there.

Photos of North Korea workers monument

The Korea Workers’ Monument. In an unusual move for a Communist country, the creative class is also represented, seen here in the paint brush.

North Korea DMZ

A rare view of the DMZ from the North Korean side. The actual border is the small curb between the blue buildings where two North Korean soldiers are facing each other. Just steps away a South Korean soldiers stands guard.

Pictures of North Korea women choson ot

Women approaching Kim Il Sung’s mausoleum wear the traditional choson ot. For many, it is the pilgrimage of a lifetime.

North Korea Arirang Mass Games

With over 100,000 performers, the Arirang Mass Games are the largest show on earth.

North Korea Choson ot Mass Dance Pyongyang

A traditional Mass Dance in Pyongyang on National Day.

Ryugyong Hotel North Korea

The 105-floor Ryugyong in Pyongyang is the tallest hotel in the world. Just don’t try making reservations. Construction stopped about 20 years ago.

USS Pueblo North Korea

A guide at the USS Pueblo, the only commissioned United States Navy ship still held in foreign hands. It was captured in international waters by North Korean forces in 1968 and its crew held hostage for 11 months.

North Korea Hureung royal tombs

With all the modern Communist iconography it’s easy to forget that North Korea has an ancient history. The Hureung tombs were built in the 15th-century to house the remains of a king and queen of the Joseon dynasty. These are statues guarding the tombs.

North Korea wedding party

A Korean wedding couple at the historic village of Chosin. Like grooms everywhere he wears an expression saying, “What am I getting myself into?”

Click on the link to view our Flickr album with more pictures of North Korea

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Michael November 22, 2011 at 1:43 am

Hi Kurt,

Your best bet for North Korea is booking with Koryo Tours. They are a Beijing-based company owned by a Brit and have the most experience in the DPRK. Glad you liked the photos.

kizzo November 23, 2011 at 5:13 am

great pictures of an unknown world to us.

Michael November 23, 2011 at 5:30 am

Thanks Kizzo. It is unknown but definitely worth checking out.

David Ecklein December 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Great website. I posted also in your “book review” section, to round it out with another point of view.

We were in Pyongyang for four fascinating days before we were reluctantly “kicked out”, very gently, though. The “rule” (in August 2008 when we went) was four days for us US citizens – the others (Europeans and one Australian) on the tour were allowed ten days. I am not sure South Koreans or Japanese, except for official purposes, are allowed at all. We were told not to bring VCRs. The “rules” of this very security-conscious country did not negatively impact the good times and friendliness by which we were met.

We found it takes patience and preparation to visit the “hermit kingdom”. We started several months in advance to get all our ducks in a row and also read a great deal about the DPRK.

We had a delightful time and saw many of the things that you did, according to your pictorial record – which matches some of ours, including shots of the massive Arirang festival in May Day Stadium. We got a chance to see some of the young people practicing for this out in the square near our hotel. Their skill and beauty is something to behold.

BTW my brother and his family live in New Zealand, so we have been there also. A country one is also reluctant to leave for other reasons, whatever one’s political views.

Liz December 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Hey! I stumbled upon your blog off of a google search! Great stuff… I’m really enjoying reading & looking at your wonderful pictures! I’m from NJ… love the Rocky statue!
Take care!

Us December 20, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Thanks for finding us Liz.

Sib December 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Incredible shots. I didn’t know you could travel to North Korea.

Michael December 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

I believe people can visit from any country except South Korea.

Robert Swim April 16, 2013 at 12:04 am

Surfing the web I saw a picture of 4 women soldiers who are North Korean border guards. Three of the 4 are wearing high heel boots. This does not seem very sensible if they have to chase someone. Even in a strict regime with little regard for fashion, women must have their footwear!

Michael April 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

You should read Larissa’s post about “Shoe diplomacy in North Korea” that really captured this topic:

Michael February 12, 2014 at 10:48 am

Yes we could bring cameras but not ones with GPS positioning and there was a limit on the size of zoom lenses. Since I use a compact point-and-shoot camera that wasn’t a problem.

Derek February 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

I would be interested in seeing the *real* photos, not the ones that were clearly screened, authorized, and orchestrated by your N.K. handlers while you were there. Children are smiling, large groups of women dancing, fancy weddings happening everywhere, mass pilgrimages to reverent mausoleums in expensive clothing, and “The world’s tallest hotel,” (where no one stays) are all just more examples of the ridiculous propaganda that N.K. spews, and it seems you’re only adding to the misery of the general North Korean public by propagating the image that their totalitarian government authorizes rather than what North Korea really looks like.

Michael February 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Hi Derek,

Of course visitors to North Korea are highly controlled and photos of the horrible sides of North Korea rarely get out. A search online will reveal some but they are difficult to find with such a totalitarian regime. It raises a whole host of issues about going to North Korea which we addressed in a post titled “Is it morally right to visit North Korea”:

Thanks for your input.


Debbie Kelly March 25, 2017 at 2:10 am

Hi Mike, I enjoyed looking at all your pictures. Were you allowed to take these pictures? looks like a beautiful place. The large building at the DMZ, is that on the South or the North Korean side?
Thanks again.

Michael March 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

Yes, we were allowed to take pictures when we were off the bus. The large building is on the southern side of the DMZ.

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