55 Rare Photographs Of Life Inside North Korea

As one of the world’s last closed societies, North Korea has attracted global curiosity to what is sealed off between it’s borders. Despite an ongoing food crisis that has spanned two decades and the cascading paranoia of the political leadership, life manages to go on in the Hermit Kingdom. Compiled from a handful of sources, we take a fascinating look at everyday life in North Korea:

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Isolation Of North Korea

Since the fall of the USSR, North Korea has existed in almost complete isolation from the rest of the world.

Pyongyang At Night

Electricity is still a rare commodity across North Korea, even in the capital of Pyongyang, where the city is shrouded in darkness at night.


North Korea has faced a dire food crisis over the past two decades, the ongoing impact of which is still visible on North Korean citizens.

Electric Fence

Over 1500 miles of North Korean coastline are surrounded by electric fences to prevent people from trying to flee the country.

North Korea Photographs Starvation

Chronic shortages of food has made the population look food any where they can find it, including by collecting grass from parks.

Agriculture In North Korea

Most agricultural production in North Korea has not been mechanized, meaning farmers are highly reliant on animals for a majority of their activities.

North Korean People

Virtually sealed off from the outside world, North Koreans have few - if any - encounters with other nationalities and races. This photograph captures the reaction of a group of people to seeing a Westerner.

Ryugyong Hotel

Dubbed "The Worst Building in the History of Mankind" and the "Hotel Of Doom", the yet-to-be-completed Ryugyong Hotel dominates the Pyongyang skyline.

Anti-Tank Defense

One defining attribute of North Korean roads are the frequent appearance of giant roadside blocks, which contain debris and shrapnel to inhibit the mobility of tanks in case of a land invasion.

North Korean Woman With Gun

On top of an active force of over one million, North Korea's military has a reserve force of over 8 million men and women.

Pyongyang Gallery Of Art

The Gallery of Art in Pyongyang deals with a mid-afternoon power outage.

Photographs Of North Korea

Pyongyang is home to the world's deepest subway system, which also doubles as a city-wide bomb shelter.

Farming In North Korea

While education is hypothetically universal and mandated in North Korea, most farms are dependent on child labor.

Holiday In North Korea

Holidays in North Korea are a little different than most, as citizens are 'asked' to pay homage to the great leader at various monuments. The resulting lines can last several miles.

North Korean Soldier

While North Korea nominally has one of the world's largest armies, the reality is the North Korean government cannot adequately provide for over 1 million active personnel. Meaning scenes like the above -- where soldiers trade labor for food or money -- are quite common.

Pyongyang From Above

Pyongyang from above.

Upscale Shops In Pyongyang

Western brands and goods are available to the elite in Pyongyang, where higher end items can be purchased only in Euros and Dollars.

Captured American Spy Ship

In 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo, an intelligence vessel that is now a museum in Pyongyang.

Driving Signs

Driving is a relatively new activity for North Koreans; these signs instruct drivers to watch their speed and be careful of other motorists.

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And if you enjoyed the gallery above, we highly recommend you watch this video series by Vice about North Korea:

Thank you to Tema and News.com.au for some of the images above.

If you liked these photographs life inside of North Korea, be sure to see All That Is Interesting’s galleries on North Korean propaganda, pollution in China and the unbelievable mass games of North Korea. And before you leave, be sure to like All That Is Interesting on Facebook!

Alexander Baldwin
Alec is the founder of the PBH Network and has become lethal at Trivial Pursuit thanks to All That Is Interesting.
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