Made in North Korea highlights everyday packaging and other designs from the isolated nation that Westerners rarely see.
For Westerners, life in North Korea remains shrouded in mystery. Despite the country’s growing tourism industry, it’s still very isolated—visitors are confined to strictly scheduled, guided tours, and it’s estimated that less than 20,000 of the country’s 25 million citizens are allowed to access the Internet (which is restricted to only a few dozen sites, anyway). Even once visitors make it into the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, they aren’t allowed to go just anywhere—foreigners couldn’t ride the entire Pyongyang subway system until 2016, for instance. Englishman Nicholas Bonner, who runs a Beijing-based tour company that specializes in visits to North Korea, has been traveling to the country regularly since 1993. Over the course of his visits, he’s managed to bring back a few souvenirs of life in the secretive nation. His new book, Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life in the DPRK (available from Phaidon), highlights sights that North Koreans see every day—graphic design on candy packaging, cans of food, cartons of cigarettes, postcards and more. The never-before-seen items are all from Bonner’s personal, eclectic collection of ephemera picked up on his decades of travel in North Korea.
Collection Nicholas Bonner