Video Gives Rare Glimpse of Life Inside North Korea's Capital

Image: File photo shows the current mosaic portrait of the founder of North Korea Kim Il-sung and the new portrait of late leader Kim Jong-il being seen in downtown Pyongyang
A new time lapse video takes viewers on a virtual tour of Pyongyang, guiding them through sites like a bustling subway station filled with commuters, landmarks such as the famous Juche Tower, and glimpses of young Korean children playing in a skate park.BOBBY YIP / Reuters

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For decades the North Korean capital of Pyongyang has been shrouded in mystery thanks to a combination strict media access, a highly regulated tourism industry, and the impact of international sanctions.

A new video by JT Singh and filmmaker Rob Whitworth attempts to change that. The pair’s new short time lapse video “Enter Pyongyang” takes viewers on a virtual tour of the city, guiding them through sites like a bustling subway station filled with commuters, landmarks such as the famous Juche Tower, and glimpses of young Korean children playing in a skate park.

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“‘Enter Pyongyang’ captures the reality of North Korean citizens as earnest and humane, not automatons,” reads Singh and Whitworth’s official description of the film. “The infamous traffic ladies and subway guards stand stiff and sentinel—but today they share a smile too. The more North Koreans one meets, the more one sees an organic society that wants to be a normal country.”

The film was made for the North Korean tourism company Koryo Tours, but Singh and Whitworth say they were given complete editorial control over the final product, though the filmmakers were forbidden from filming construction sites, undeveloped land or the military.

“Other than that we were given relatively free reign,” they write in a Q&A.

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