Unreal Photos Smuggled Out of North Korea

These photos are among the very few to ever come out of North Korea. Elliot, founder of Earth Nutshell, and world-renowned photographer, Michael Huniewicz, put their lives on the line to smuggle these images out of the country.

Because of them, we’ve been illegally granted a deeper understanding of what it’s like living in one of the world’s most oppressive places, and of course, those existing there are truly unaware of what the world is like outside of their tall grey walls.

Start the slideshow to discover a side of North Korea that you never even knew existed…

Beautiful People or Government Propaganda?

Above you see a musician from a North Korean military band standing at attention during the opening ceremony of a new dock at the port of Rajin.  She looks healthy and happy, but is this really the norm in North Korea?

This is an example of what the government wants you to see, but click Next Page to discover the real North Korea.

A Glance Of China And North Korea At Once


This shot puts into perspective the stark differences between the wealth distribution of China and North Korea. Though China and North Korea aren’t friends, North Korea’s demise would affect Chinese territories along the border. That being said, the two have to play nice as neighbors.

If you think a socialist and communist society look about the same, take this photo into account.

The Demilitarized (Militarized) Zone Of North Korea


This shot was taken by Michael Huniewicz out of his bus window when passing through the Demilitarized Zone the North Koreans created after the Korean War. Though they acknowledge there was an armistice, they also perpetuate a narrative that they won, and of course, it was due to the genius of the strong Kim II-sung.

Something to note: this “demilitarized zone” was the most militarized part of North Korea that Michael and his team drove through.

If You’re From North Korea, You Cannot Leave


This is pretty much common knowledge, but just to reiterate, if you are from North Korea, you won’t be leaving… ever.
There are watchtowers and soldiers everywhere, and if you’re caught trying to escape, you’ll spend years in a concentration camp. If the Chinese catch you, one of two things will happen: if you are a man, you’ll be sent home, but if you are a woman, you’ll be sold.

And A Famine Struck The Land…


Back in 1994, a famine struck North Korea so bad that it lasted four years. Most of the crops were destroyed so people got desperate and turned to cannibalism. The death toll within those four years was 3.5 million people (that’s 10% of the country’s population).

The little food the country had was confiscated by the military to feed the highest officials in the land.

There Are No Cameras Allowed, Not Even For Tourists


If you’re ever granted the opportunity to visit North Korea, your visa will have to be approved by the Party and you’ll be asked to sign some forms promising you don’t have any suspicious technology with you.

When Michael and his team went through customs, they hid their professional camera and showed the guards another that had an amateur lens on it, inferring their inexperience.

Did You Know North Korea Has A Caste System?


Since 1957, there has been a three-caste system in North Korea, the “hostiles,” the “wavering,” and the “core,” all based on family history.

The core consists of those most loyal to the government; the wavering class is the working class or “the neutral class” and the hostiles are those with a family history of rebellion. Rebellion is characterized by things like land ownership and converting to Christianity. The hostiles are denied education and are not allowed to live near Pyongyang, the capital city.

Most North Koreans Live In Poverty


This is the first photo Michael Huniewicz took in North Korea. The experience was other-worldly from the beginning. He claims it felt and looked like “an Oriental version of Eastern Europe from before 1989.”
The city captured here is Sinuiju, one of the country’s poorest regions. In North Korea, 24 million people are living below the poverty line.