By Mark McConville
INCREDIBLE images taken in the last month show the reality of life in North Korea as tensions continue to simmer with America.
Stunning shots show happy North Korea people going about their daily business in town squares and train stations while kids listen to an accordion player.
Other astonishing pictures show the spectacular beauty of the country with the capital Pyongyang illuminated at night while skyscrapers stretch across the city. Temples and beautiful countryside landscape pictures are also showcased.
The rare photographs, which offer a unique glimpse behind the veil, were taken on a trip to the country by web designer Reuben Teo (31) from Sarawak, Malaysia.
“Due to the clichés in my mind about the country like military, war and propaganda, I was initially excited but terrified at the same time when I first arrived in North Korea,” he said.
“As time passes and through more observations during the trip, I began to see that North Korea actually does have real life within their society.
“I also discovered that North Korea has been stuck in time, most notably in the 80s. It was like a living time capsule. Despite all these, there were still a lot of beauty within the closed doors of North Korea.
“They may not have the same standards of aesthetics as we have but their interpretation of beauty was unique and utterly amazing. I saw beauty in their cities, their natural landscapes and in the people.”
Mr Teo, who used a Nikon D800 to take the photos, was only told not to photograph three things while he was there and believes his pictures show a different side to North Korea than how it is usually portrayed in the media.
“During my trip, we were told not to shoot three things,” he explained.
“It was the military, military checkpoints and construction sites. As long as I followed these rules, no one stopped me from taking any photographs.
“I was free to take photos from my car, while walking on the streets and so on. Of course, it would be great to ask if you have doubts about whether you could shoot.
“I was stopped once while taking photos at the flower exhibition because there seemed to be a portrait of Kim Jong Un which I did not notice. I was told that I couldn’t shoot in that direction but no reason was given.
“I went as a traveller and wanted to experience it myself. However, after seeing it personally and looking back at the pictures I brought back, I thought that it was important for us to take a little step back and enjoy the beauty that has been hidden away from view by the mainstream media.
“I also thought that by sharing my stories and experiences with everyone would open a door for them to see North Korea in a different perspective.”
Mr Teo hopes his pictures can shed light on the real North Korea and recommends it as a top destination to visit.
“The photographs open our eyes to a region that has limited information and brings the world closer by allowing us to appreciate the country from a different perspective Landscapes of North Korea is a wonderful way to show the world that there is beauty in North Korea,” he added.
“North Korea is a self-reliant country in which they believe that education is the way to make a better living.
“North Korea may not be your ‘modern’ or ‘wealthy’ country by Western standards, but it is in fact unique in its own way and the people are one of the friendliest I’ve ever met throughout my travels to many places.
“The country is also extremely clean and I can honestly tell you that it sits next just to Japan in terms of cleanliness. Put North Korea in your list of exotic destinations to visit.”
For more information see www.reubenteo.com