Up until recently, visitors to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) had to abandon their cellphones at the customs gates. When travelers were finally granted the access to carry their phones with them a little over a month ago, they still had the slight problem of not really being able to do much with them.
Yep, no internet access (or local calls, for that matter). It wasn’t until just a few days ago that North Korea finally turned on some 3G for visitors (not the people of North Korea, mind you).
What does that mean? Social media updates from tourists, of course. And the AP’s David Guttenfelder is providing some of the first-ever real-time photographs from the notoriously closed-off country
“I feel I can help open a window into a place that would otherwise rarely be seen by outsiders,” he says. “As one of the few international photographers who has ever had regular access to the country, I feel a huge responsibility to share what I see and to show it as accurately as I can.”
Instagram recently highlighted his photography in a blog post. Here are some incredible shots coming in from DPRK – ones that wouldn’t have been possible until very recently.
North Korean commuters pass by propaganda posters in #Pyongyang.
A North Korean guide uses a pointer at the start of a tour of an historic site. On Jan. 18, 2013, foreigners were allowed for the first time to bring mobile phones into North Korea. And this week the local service provider, Koryolink, is allowing foreigners to access the Internet on a data capable 3G connection on our mobile phones. In the past I could post geolocated phone photos to my Instagram feed by turning my online laptop into a hotspot to link my iPhone or iPod touch by wifi. But, today I’m posting this directly from my phone while riding in the back of a van in #Pyongyang. The window on to North Korea has opened another crack. Meanwhile, for Koreans here who will not have access to the same service, the window remains shut.
North Korean babies rest in a row of cribs at the #Pyongyang Maternity Hospital.
A North Korean doctor and a bank of video monitors inside a #Pyongyang hospital.
For more real-time photos from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, make sure to follow David Guttenfelder (@dguttenfelder) on Instagram.