Tourist took camera inside North Korea and was stunned

Gained permission for his 360 photography project after sending emails and faxes to North Korean contacts, Singaporean photographer Aram Pan visited North Korea last May 2014. He braced himself for the scenes of 'barren lands' and 'really, really sad people' that he had seen via a BBC Panorama documentary.

Women in brightly coloured bathing suits throw sand on the beach,
as others standwith their bicycles in the background.

Instead, he discovered healthy looking men and women shopping, playing volleyball and clocking off work at 6pm. He believes that ‘North Korea needs more friendly interaction with the outside world, even if it is just tourists.

‘I have been curious about North Korea for many years. The average person has probably seen more photos about outer space than of North Korea. It’s one of those great mysteries that I wanted to discover for myself and I figured it might just be possible,’ Mr. Pan said to MailOnline

Mr. Pan did not have to hide the photos and video he was taking from inside the country - he simply asked for permission from the North Korean contacts.

The Munsu Water Park in Pyongyang, North Korea, features colourful
water slides,swimming pools and glass pyramids roofs
North Korean men wearing suits enjoy ice cream in the sunshine

He decided to set about planning a trip in 2012, by writing and asking permission to do a photographic project. ‘It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. I didn’t want to do a sneaky, undercover project as I didn’t want to get into any trouble,’ Mr. Pan said.

According to Mr. Pan, explaining how he got inside, he sent several mails and faxes to multiple North Korean contacts, and all of which are easily available when you search online. And then one day, someone from the North Korean contacts replied to him and met him. It was easy than he expected.

Singaporean photographer, Aram Pan stands in front of a bronze monument
A woman in a pink gown gets her hair dyed at an old fashioned hairdressers

In June 2013 it was reported that leader Kim Jong-un plans to turn North Korea into a “world class” tourist destination, so Kim Jong-un order the transformation of the industrial port of Wonsan into a beach resort town.

Mr Pan, a commercial photographer by day who specialises in 360 degree panoramic virtual tours for real estate, hotels and automobiles, has now been on two visits to North Korea and plans to go on a third this autumn.

Consumer goods, such as electrical rice cookers and other kitchen
appliances, have begun to flood North Korea via China

The fields are ready for harvest.

'Coming back from my second trip, many things still puzzle me. I've travelled from Pyongyang to Hyangsan to Wonsan to Kumgangsan, to Kaesong and back. The things I've seen and photographed tell me that the situation isn't as bad as I thought,' he said.

'People seem to go about their daily lives and everything looks so incredibly normal. Some of my friends tell me that everything I've seen must be fake and all that I've photographed are a massive mock up.

'But the more I think about that logic, the more it doesn't make any sense… would anyone mock up miles and miles of crops as far as my eyes can see and orchestrate thousands of people to seemingly go about their daily lives?'

Mr Pan saw healthy looking men and women play volleyball together on the beach

Mr Pan believes that to fake everything on such a massive scale would mean North Korea's organisation skills are 'far beyond that of any developed country'. He was escorted throughout his time in the country but said he had no schedule to follow and was given the ability to move around 'quite freely'. He has also reasoned that none of his photographs or video were confiscated or deleted.

His stunning photos show the streets of North Korea's capital Pyongyang, the countryside, the beaches and the famous Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang.

The famous Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang.
The city of Pyongyang seen from the Yanggakdo Hotel
A sunny afternoon in Kaesong Town.

And in one of 'the most unusual dishes' he'd ever eaten, he tucked into clams cooked with gasoline.

He also visited landmarks like the Tower of the Juche Idea, the Royal Tomb of King Tongmyong and the Kumgang Reunion Centre - the place where families from the North and South of Korea meet.

Gasoline cooked clams

Workers finishing at 6pm and heading home
The streets of Pyongyang featured cars and buses like any other city but far less traffic

'I hope some good will come about from my project as I believe that North Korea needs more friendly interaction with the outside world, even if it is just tourists,' he said.

Watch the video here:

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Tourist took camera inside North Korea and was stunned Tourist took camera inside North Korea and was stunned Reviewed by TrendSpot on Sunday, January 04, 2015 Rating: 5

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