Associated Press Pyongyang Bureau Chief Eric Talmadge and photographer David Guttenfelder were granted unprecedented access through North Korea for a week in June of this year. They traveled to the country's spiritual summit of Mount Paektu. Throughout the trip, Talmadge and Guttenfelder traveled alongside government "minders" and were not able to interview ordinary people.
In the photo above, schoolchildren help repair potholes on a rural road in North Korea's North Hamgyong province on June 20, 2014.
An employee walks through the lobby of a hotel for foreign visitors in Chongjin, North Korea on June 19.
A man takes shelter from the rain in Samjiyon, North Korea on June 17. Talmadge and Guttenfelder stopped at many towns like this along the way to Mount Paektu.
On June 16, farmers walk their cattle through a rainstorm in the Ryanggang province of North Korea. Most of the North Korean landscape remains industrially undeveloped.
There are very few motor vehicles outside of Pyongyang, and most, like the one pictured, frequently break down. In this photo, taken in the port city of Wonsan, North Korea on June 21, a man works on his pickup truck.
A North Korean woman walks on the peak of Mount Paektu in North Korea's Ryanggang province on June 18. More than a thousand years ago, a huge volcano straddling the border between North Korea and China was the site of one of the biggest eruptions in human history, blanketing eastern Asia in its ash.
But unlike other major volcanos around the world, the remote and politically sensitive Mount Paektu remains almost a complete mystery to foreign scientists who have - until recently - been unable to conduct on-site studies.
A deer's hoof used as a door handle hangs from the front door of the home where North Koreans say the late leader Kim Jong Il was born, around Mount Paektu in North Korea's Ryanggang province on June 17.
North Koreans venerate Mount Paektu for its natural beauty, but more importantly because it is considered the home of the North Korean revolution.
A woman walks along a deserted stretch of road southeast of Pyongyang, North Korea on June 21. Many roads in North Korea are poorly paved. This 124-mile stretch of highway between Pyongyang and the port city of Wonsan is the country's best-paved stretch, and is often devoid of traffic.
North Korean residents walk on a road along a river in the town of Kimchaek, in North Korea's North Hamgyong province, on June 20. The once-productive cities along its east coast, like the coal mining town of Kilju and the nearby city of Kimchaek, have become a rust belt. Ironworks complexes which these cities were built around remain dormant.
Young North Koreans have a beachside picnic in Wonsan, North Korea on June 21. Wonsan was converted to the nation's first beach resort in 2013 after an initiative by Kim Jong-Un.
Statues of animals play instruments in the countryside in Samsu on June 16. North Korea is filled with child-friendly iconography dating back to the Soviet era.
Leftovers from a group lunch in Wosan, North Korea, on June 15.
Residents rest alongside a railroad track in North Korea's North Hamgyong province on June 20. Because of very low vehicle ownership and poor road conditions, railways are the country's main mode of transportation.