Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video Is a Window Into North Korea

The world’s most secretive country may not have that title for much longer, if a new video — created with the complete permission of North Korean officials — is any indication. The video “Enter Pyongyang,” below, is a collaboration among Koryo Tours, which has led tours in the country since 1993; branding specialist JT Singh; and time-lapse photographer Rob Whitworth. It offers panoramic aerial views and takes you inside offices and transit stations. North Korean tourism officials oversaw the project through each stage of filming. Singh said his crew was not paid to create the video, only that Koryo Tours covered their travel expenses covered by Koryo Tours. The trickle of news and photographs from North Korea is starting to look like a flood, as outside curiosity about a country known for its secrecy creates an interest in views from the inside. The country’s move to promote attention is an indicator of a desire to increase tourism revenue. “‘Enter Pyongyang’ is an observational film,” Singh said. “At no point did Koryo Tours or we have to pretend to be supporters of the DPRK Government or their philosophy in order to be granted permission to shoot this film. Amazingly, we were given complete editorial control in the making of this piece.” Although the filmmakers say they were free to create a film free of propaganda, Singh repeated a message that is becoming a common refrain about North Koreans. “‘Enter Pyongyang’ captures the reality of North Korean citizens as earnest and humane, not automatons,” he said about the video. Activities for foreigners in North Korea include guided tours (notably from Koryo Tours, which is credited in the video), summer camp for kids and a surfing camp. The country’s lighthearted vacation options stand in stark contrast to a dire human rights record. Although foreigners, including Americans, can book a trip with an approved tour company at any time of the year, Pyongyang isn’t topping any lists of hot vacation spots. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments….

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The world’s most secretive country may not have that title for much longer, if a new video — created with the complete permission of North Korean officials — is any indication.

The video “Enter Pyongyang,” below, is a collaboration among Koryo Tours, which has led tours in the country since 1993; branding specialist JT Singh; and time-lapse photographer Rob Whitworth. It offers panoramic aerial views and takes you inside offices and transit stations.

North Korean tourism officials oversaw the project through each stage of filming. Singh said his crew was not paid to create the video, only that Koryo Tours covered their travel expenses covered by Koryo Tours.

The trickle of news and photographs from North Korea is starting to look like a flood, as outside curiosity about a country known for its secrecy creates an interest in views from the inside. The country’s move to promote attention is an indicator of a desire to increase tourism revenue.

“‘Enter Pyongyang’ is an observational film,” Singh said. “At no point did Koryo Tours or we have to pretend to be supporters of the DPRK Government or their philosophy in order to be granted permission to shoot this film. Amazingly, we were given complete editorial control in the making of this piece.”

Although the filmmakers say they were free to create a film free of propaganda, Singh repeated a message that is becoming a common refrain about North Koreans.

“‘Enter Pyongyang’ captures the reality of North Korean citizens as earnest and humane, not automatons,” he said about the video.

Activities for foreigners in North Korea include guided tours (notably from Koryo Tours, which is credited in the video), summer camp for kids and a surfing camp.

The country’s lighthearted vacation options stand in stark contrast to a dire human rights record. Although foreigners, including Americans, can book a trip with an approved tour company at any time of the year, Pyongyang isn’t topping any lists of hot vacation spots.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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