We all know that North Korea is a secretive state, and for that reason we don’t see many photos taken inside the country.
When western photographers are allowed into the country, it’s usually because they’re being strictly supervised.
But when if a photographer just took pictures of whatever they liked, and captured what life was really like in the secret state?
Well, that’s exactly what French photo journalist Eric Lafforgue did, and it ended in him being banned from returning to North Korea.
Why? Well, some of his images are pretty shocking.
Here are just a few of them, along with the reasons the North Korean authorities wanted them banned!
1. This emaciated looking man is suffering from malnutrition, which is a problem that the North Korean authorities want to keep as quiet as possible.
2. The authorities want journalists to believe everything is the same inside the compound they show you, but this photo proves it isn’t.
3. The authorities are keen to show that ordinary families have computers… even if the frequent power cuts mean that their screens are blank.
4. This thin looking little boy is also the kind of image that North Korea doesn’t want the world to see.
5. This man was resting, but officials thought that journalists would say he was dead, so the photo was banned
6. The region of Chongjin has suffered in the famine, and pictures of people like this in the street prove it.
7. The North Korean capital Pyongyang has art galleries, but they also suffer power cuts, which officials say is down to an American embargo
8. Many people have to cycle for miles to get to work and often stop to rest, which officials don’t want you to see
9. North Korea says foreign aid is a war debt, so taking photos that proves they receive any is forbidden
10. This photo of a broken down bus was banned as it make North Korea look like a poor country
11. Most children in the country are strictly disciplined, and photographers are definitely not allowed to capture images of those who aren’t
12. Images portraying poverty in the country are definitely not allowed, like this photo of two children
13. Journalists are not allowed to take pictures of the military, so even this striking photo was banned
14. If you’re not allowed pictures of the military, photos of soldiers relaxing even a little are certainly off limits
15. This photo of people doing public projects is pretty much forced labor, so the North Korean authorities don’t like journalists taking images of it happening
16. Smiling in front of photos of the country’s leaders is definitely frowned upon
17. The reason why this is a banned photo? Because the man’s painting isn’t finished. Weird, right?
18. You’re allowed to photograph the dolphin show… but not the soldiers
19. Taking pictures in the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea is okay, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you
20. These very poor children obviously have barely enough to get by as they scrabble up spilt maize on the ground, which make North Korea look like a poverty stricken country
21. This guy is even collecting grass to eat, something we sometimes hear about, but happens all the time in North Korea
22. The black market has been stamped out in North Korea. There is a ‘gray market’ that allows people to get by, but photos of it such as this one are strictly prohibited
23. Any image that shows the poverty of the country is banned
24. The reason why this image was banned? No, it’s not the women holding hands. It’s because North Korean underground stations are built very deep and double as bomb shelters. This image was banned because it shows the tunnels.
25. This photo shows forced labor of children on farms
26. This man is using an old tyre as a fishing boat, because in the countryside, often the only way to get fresh food in remote areas
27. This guy is taking a wash in the river because he’s too poor to do it anywhere else
28. There are few cars in North Korea, and children often play on roads and highways as if there were none at all
29. This is another crazy banned image, the reason why is because the photographer used a flash
30. This is a soldier doing a menial task, which the North Korean authorities hate being photographed
31. The authorities insist that everyone in a photo is smartly dressed at all times. This lady is even fixing the man’s shirt for him
32. Here’s another image showing a person resting, which could be mistaken for somebody laying dead
33. The authorities want everyone to look good, and they thought these people looked homeless, even though they too were just resting on a park bench
34. There are even supermarkets in North Korea now, but only the very wealthy can afford to shop there
35. These children are scared of this escalator because they’ve never seen one before
36. As everyone in the country must appear smartly dressed, this photo of a casual young man didn’t go down well
37. Neither did this image of people waiting in line to get on a bus home from work
38. This man also was deemed to not be smartly dressed enough to be photographed
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