Associated Press reporters David Guttenfelder and Jean Lee have been posting photos and videos from inside North Korea on their Instagram feeds. This is the first time anyone has posted on Instagram from North Korea, and the immediacy of their updates lends a new perspective to our understanding of the secretive nation.
Earlier this year, North Korea began allowing foreigners access to its mobile Internet service, Koryolink. While foreign visitors can use the pricey 3G service to tweet and upload photos, North Korean citizens are restricted to voice calls.
Guttenfelder writes, “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.”
Many of the shots capture rehearsals of the Arirang Mass Games as North Korea prepares for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the July 27 armistice that ended the Korean War. But there are also glimpses of daily life and commercial offerings in addition to images of propaganda.
Top image: “Korean War veterans enter a cemetery for their deceased fellow war veterans in #Pyongyang.”
A view of Pyongyang from Guttenfelder’s hotel.
“The yet to be completed 105-story pyramid shaped Ryugyong Hotel can be seen from about anywhere you stand in Pyongyang. The North Koreans started building it around 1987.”
“DPRK in B&W. North Korean farmers tend fields near #Kaesong.”
“North Korean veterans of the Korean War gather together in a stadium in #pyongyang before a mass ‘dance party’.”
“Inside the new Korean War museum on #Pyongyang, tiny models in a glass case depict U.S. Army Major General William F. Dean, the highest ranking American captured during the Korean War.”
“North Koreans in a passing car this morning in #Pyongyang.”
“#NKorean schoolgirls sneaking a moment from a political ceremony to share a laugh. Their haircuts and school uniforms remind me of what my mother wore as a schoolgirl in Seoul in the late 1950s. Last month,#Pyongyang, #DPRK.”
Check out the reporters’ feeds for more footage as it comes.