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Eric said, “I was banned
after my last trip in September 2012 when I published some photos on the web. The North Koreans saw them and asked me to delete them as they judged them too offensive. I refused as I thought it was unfair not to show the reality of the country.” Mr Lafforgue wanted to show that North Koreans are humans, not robots, who also suffer. “Life is brutal in many places of North Korea, far from the Western standard.” These are the photographs Kim Jong-un didn’t want the outside world to see.
The North Korean army is
said to be one of the most important in the world. But if you travel there, you’ll often see soldiers doing menial tasks like helping farmers.
A woman standing in the
middle of a crowd of soldiers. This picture is not supposed to be taken as officials do not allow army pictures.
‘The North Korean officials hate
when you take this kind of picture. Even when I explain that poverty exists all around the world, in my own country as well, they forbid me from taking pictures of the poor.’
‘Paranoia is strong in North
Korean minds. I took this picture at a funfair of a tired mother and child resting on a bench. I was asked to delete the picture since the guides were certain I would have said those people were homeless.’
‘As cars have become more
widespread in Pyongyang, the peasants are still getting accustomed to seeing them. Kids play in the middle of the main avenues just like before when there were no cars in sight.
No photos! 'Taking pictures in
the demilitarised zone (between North and South Korea) is easy, but if you come too close to the soldiers, they stop you'
‘When you visit families, the
guides love it if you take pics to show the world that kids have computers. But when they see there is no electricity, then they ask you to delete.’
'This man was using an
old tyre for a boat. In the countryside, people often fish in small lakes - it's a way to get fresh food in remote areas where it's rare'
On the day of the
Kimjongilia festival, thousands of North Koreans must queue up to visit various monuments.’
'You are supposed to see
fun at the Songdowon Children's Camp but some come from the country and are scared of escalators which they’ve never seen before'
One night, on the way
back to the hotel my bus had to take an alternate route due to street closures. As we passed by old buildings, the guides asked me not to shoot with flash. The official reason was to avoid scaring people.
‘A visit to a rural
home. Those houses and the families who live there are carefully selected by the government. But sometimes, a detail like a bathroom used as a cistern shows that times are hard.’
‘Showing poverty is forbidden, but
displaying wealth is also a big taboo in North Korea. In a park on a Sunday afternoon, I found this car that belongs to one of Pyongyang’s elite. The owners were having a BBQ.’
Forbidden: The regime considers pictures
showing smiles under portraits of the leadership to be disrespectful. 'Never take a picture where you can see people doing silly things in front of the Kim portraits,' says Lafforgue