20 Photos North Korea’s Kim Does Not Want You To See


Photographer Eric Lafforgue captured the other side of North Korea – the shocking extent of the deprivation suffered by the natives – and paid the price. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un was strongly opposed to anyone seeing these photos, so he asked Eric to delete the ‘offensive’ images that revealed the reality of the country – the brutal life people were forced to live, the isolated towns, and widespread poverty and malnutrition. When he refused and published the photos that showed the human side of North Koreans, and the autocratic nature of the communist state, he was banned for life from the country. Take a look at some of the most ‘offensive’ photos:


A woman standing in the middle of a crowd of soldiers. This picture is not supposed to be taken as officials do not allow army pictures.


The North Korean officials hate when you take this kind of picture. Even when I explain that poverty exists all around the world, in my own country as well, they forbid me from taking pictures of the poor.


When times are hard (as they usually are here), kids can be found working for the farming collectives.


For a long time, bans against black market sales have been strictly enforced. Grey market vendors are more common. They earn a little money selling cigarettes or sweets.


Showing poverty is forbidden, but displaying wealth is also a big taboo in North Korea. In a park on a Sunday afternoon, I found this car that belongs to one of Pyongyang’s elite. The owners were having a BBQ.


It is forbidden to take pictures of soldiers relaxing.


It’s not a circus, they are workers in a country with low safety standards.


Paranoia is strong in North Korean minds. I took this picture at a funfair of a tired mother and child resting on a bench. I was asked to delete the picture since the guides were certain I would have said those people were homeless.


This is never supposed to happen: a broom standing on the base of Kim Il Sung’s statue in Mansudae, in Pyongyang.


When you visit families, the guides love it if you take pics to show the world that kids have computers. But when they see there is no electricity, then they ask you to delete.


In the art centre of Pyongyang, we experienced a power outage, a daily event the North Koreans hate to show. When it happens, they tell you it’s because of the American embargo.


The North Korean army is said to be one of the most important in the world. But if you travel there, you’ll often see soldiers doing menial tasks like helping farmers.


Outside urban areas, such a scene is fairly common.


Pyongyang’s subway system is the deepest in the world as it doubles as a bomb shelter. Someone saw me taking this picture and told me to delete it since it included the tunnel.


A visit to a rural home. Those houses and the families who live there are carefully selected by the government. But sometimes, a detail like a bathroom used as a cistern shows that times are hard.


Public transportation connecting the main towns is nearly non-existent. Citizens need permits to go from one place to another. On the highways, you can spot soldiers hitchhiking.


It is also forbidden to photograph malnutrition.


When visiting the delphinium in Pyongyang, you can photograph the animals, but not the soldiers who make up 99 per cent of the crowd.


In a Christian church, this official was dozing off on a bench. You must never show the officials in a bad light.


This soldier was sleeping in a field. This picture really contributed to me getting banned from the country.




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  1. …and the thing is americunt-government will still laud it about that n’korea is a huge threat to ‘world peace’…

    Strange how the devil tell you he’s the good guy’

  2. Interesting photos, but what I’m more worried about is the safety of the people who appear in them; will Kim Jong Un punish them instead. I can’t imagine he’s just happy with banning a photographer for life when he enjoys shooting people with anti aircraft guns.

  3. strange world we are in, isnt it? but where is the difference between a poor being photographed in New York or secretly in North Korea??? he still remains a poor and liberty being questioned as much as humanity and leadership on both sides of a superficial fence. Militarism for any reason is the poison of a free world, no matter where! It is also a clear sign that we need another 5000 years for evolution or a severe self destruction event triggering evolution. Lets bet what it is going to be?
    Thanks for the fotos, good job.

  4. Doesnt that already exist in most countries of the world? North Korea is nothing special and dont treat their people differently than in other low standard countries and I find it unfair to not mention the flaws of other countries like them

  5. thanks for your photos. Its good to show north korea as you see it. However what you have done is a double edged knife.
    You have caused the death of those people in the photos and the life long imprisonment in concentration camps for the rest of their generation. I hope you as a photographer know that ..

  6. What a shame! Dictatorial governments are a bullshit, anyhow behind any democracy there’re rich people pulling the strings, they make us believe we’re free but we’re nothing but slaves of the capitalism. In México de have a killer puppet as President managed by the U.S.A.

  7. I have known for a long time even with out these photos : That Kim is a really bad Dictator !
    Poor people are the ones who suffer the most from Stupid leadership !
    We need to free them all from this, only way this will change is if we all stand up and put our foot down and say NO to them who are Godless ! Stand up for RIGHT All ways !


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