French photographer documents daily lives of the people of North Korea
Updated: 2021-02-16 10:04:59 KST
North Korea might be in the news almost every day, but it's still hard to see the daily lives of North Koreans.
When French photographer Stephan Gladieu finally got the chance to visit through a North Korean delegate in Paris he focused on the individuals who live in the North.
"It's like people have fascination for North Korea but we completely forget people who are living there. My focus was to give them a face, to try to show who they are and at the same time to try to show where they are living."
He went around several areas including Pyeongyang and Kaesong, and said that unlike other places, people in North Korea don't display any individual portraits pictures of themselves.
"When there are photographs, there are photographs in groups at school, at work but only time when you get a chance to be photographed by your own it's for your ID paper."
Being accompanied by North Korean guards, he tried to take photos of people's daily lives in as many different places as possible, for example at the zoo, supermarket and church wherever guards would permit him to go.
Not only did people have similar clothes and haircuts, they also posed for pictures in the same way.
" More or less they are all doing the same thing and that comes from the fact that they live in a collectivist system. Alone, you are just part of the group. You don't really exist individually."
When taking pictures of them, he used a special photographic technique with studio flashes and the sun to control the light and color, making it look like the people have been photoshopped as if they were not real.
The photographer says North Korea was the best place to use such a technique, because the place was already unreal to him.
"What you see is real, it's their life. It's weird and strange but it's true and it's what it is."
Through this experience, he says he realized that perhaps the first step toward understanding the North Korean regime would be to acknowledge the 25-million people of North Korea up close like he did through his pictures.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.