If the North Korean propaganda machine is to be believed, the Hermit Kingdom is a rare oasis of beauty, Pyongyang a bustling metropolis, the North Korean people a bundle of energy and happiness and its leaders a source of strength and compassion.
These Instagram videos, however, uploaded by AP photojournalist David Guttenfelder, show anything but a cheery nation. From a dark Pyongyang skyline to desolate highways, the Hermit Kingdom appears as depressing as most always imagined it.
Guttenfelder has made several trips to North Korea since the Associated Press opened a bureau there. In December, the photographer described his experiences in a post for the AP: "My window on North Korea is sometimes, quite literally, a window – of a hotel room, the backseat of a car, a train. Fleeting moments of daily life present themselves suddenly, and they are opportunities to show a side of the country that is entirely at odds with the official portrait of marching troops and tightly coordinated pomp that the Pyongyang leadership presents to the world."
1. BLACK OUT Despite DPRK accounts portraying Pyongyang as a cosmopolitan wonder, almost all the lights turn off at night.
#Pyongyang, North Korea by night. A first video test for me from the DPRK.
2. THE ROAD AHEAD The path between a world capital and a busy industrial complex... empty.
The open road. A North Korean national highway between #Pyongyang and #Kaesong.
3. PYONGYANG PROPAGANDA When state propaganda is a fact of life.
Roadside propaganda next to a construction site in #Pyongyang, North Korea.
4. MILITARY LUNCH Demonstrations of the military's might are never far away.
A North Korean woman adds up the restaurant lunch receipts while military videos play on the TV behind the counter.
5. RAINY BORDER A sparsely populated dividing line separates two worlds, North and South Korea.
North Korean soldiers stands guard at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that divides the two Koreas.
6. RURAL EMPTINESS Perhaps this country landscape best captures the reality of life in the isolated nation --quiet, desolate and foreign.
Rural North Korea. South of #Pyongyang.