Young Traveler's Instagram Offers a Rare Look at Life in North Korea


The world knows very little about daily life in North Korea, and the country's government prefers to keep it that way. Citizens don't have access to the Internet, and very few outsiders are allowed to enter the country. Minneapolis native Taylor Pemberton, however, was recently granted permission to see the capital city of Pyongyang and has been sharing photos from his journey on Instagram.

In an interview with the BBC, Pemberton, 26, spoke about his experiences and the strict rules that he and his fellow tourists had to follow during their visit. “My cameras, memory cards, and phones were screened on entry … You are told when to wake up, when meals are available, and when your day is coming to an end," Pemberton said. "You're also strictly informed when it's OK/not OK to take photos.”

Despite the restrictions, Pemberton managed to capture powerful candid shots of North Koreans going about their everyday lives. Set against a background of tight military formations and massive tributes to Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-un are ordinary people heading to the metro, roller blading, and playing with their kids. Underneath an image of men trying to fix a car, Pemberton writes,

“Typical scenes in North Korea happen just like everywhere else in the world. People tease each other, they trip up the stairs, they try to fix their hair in the reflection. I'm inspired by all this because it brings a sense of relation to a society that is alienated for obvious reasons.”

Check out a few of Pemberton's images below and see the rest over on Instagram.