Visitors stand next to ornate gates at the mausoleum for former North Korean leader Kim Il Sung. 2009
Tensions are running high again on the Korean peninsula. As international observers watch closely for what move the North will play next, I thought it might be a good time to revisit some of my work from photographing in North Korea, undercover on-assignment, for the Globe & Mail in 2009.
Below is an extract from an article I contributed to the Digital Journalist the same year, recounting some of my experiences whilst photographing in this reclusive state. It was an experience I shall never forget…
Last month, I got a call from the Globe & Mail‘s Asia correspondent, Mark MacKinnon, asking me if I was free in early September for a shoot. “Sure,” I said. I had been working with Mark a lot recently and was keen to work with him again. “I’m thinking of going to North Korea,” he said. “North Korea? Okay, I’m in,” I nonchalantly replied.
As our bus trundled across the bridge over the Yalu River that separates China and North Korea, my initial nonchalance had well and truly disappeared as we slowly approached the most closed nation on earth.
A North Korean family huddle together in Kaesong City near the DMZ. 2009
I was nervous because both Mark and I were posing as tourists, entering a country that was not exactly friendly to the foreign press. Immediately after the well-publicized rescue by former U.S. President Bill Clinton of journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who had been caught illegally entering the country, this was maybe not the best time to be trying to sneak into North Korea. With Mark’s passport indicating his journalist credentials hidden (replaced by one with no such indications) and my camera broken up into as many parts as possible and spread around my person, we actually didn’t raise too many eyebrows as we quietly slipped onto a bus packed with Chinese tourists.
Continue Reading »