What does North Korea really look like?

Aram Pam's video shows an almost deserted Pyongyang captured as he rode his bike

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The notoriously secretive North Korean regime has allowed a brief glimpse into what the Communist country actually looks like, after sanctioning a filmed city tour of Pyongyang captured by a cyclist on his bike.

The footage, taken by Aram Pam, shows almost deserted roads, clean streets, a complete lack of advertising, simple architecture and few cars, buses or public transport on roads.

The Singaporean photographer insists the footage is unedited and said he was granted permission to film - although he was accompanied by officials throughout the trip.

His companions included a photographer, who he said was present throughout his trip to ensure "all representations of their leaders are photographed in full without cropping and in proper focus.”

The video was produced for Pam's DPRK 360 project, which aims to create a panoramic view of North Korea. But his film has received mixed reviews, with some suggesting Pam's end product is deliberately benign and omits the problems and difficulties faced by those living within the country’s regime.

On his Facebook page, he responded to criticism with: "For those asking why I am not photographing prisons and labor camps in North Korea, what makes you think I'll be able to find them? If journalists who've dedicated their lives to uncovering such places already have such difficulty, will a regular Joe like me find them?”

The video comes shortly after pictures taken by a Google Glass user Kenny Zhu during a recent trip to North Korea were published.

“At the first sight they were able to tell it is a photography device. But without internet  - [there is] no internet service available for temporary foreign visitors in North Korea - the glasses are just a wearable video camera," Mr Zhu told CNN.

"They were suspicious of the Google Glass at first though, asking me some questions about it -- how it work, what does it do, etc.. I let them played around with it and they seemed flattered and inquired no more.”