North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a hermit kingdom located in the east part of Asia, and it is one of the most walled-off countries in the world.
The DPRK is full of secrecy. Visitors are only allowed into the country as part of government approved tours, in which they are only allowed to visit certain parts of the country.
Taking photos of the country is not allowed unless given permission to, and while I already almost got in trouble for taking photos inside North Korea, here I am at it again to show you what the North Korean government wouldn’t want you to see.
During the time I’ve been living in China, I have visited the North Korean border city of Dandong on a few occasions. On one of those occasions I even managed to get scolded by North Korean military for having my camera too close to view, an extremely scary experience.
But regardless, each time I’ve come back for more.
While the below photos only represent the border area of Sinuiju province from Yalu River, they cast a light into what the hermit kingdom of North Korea looks and feels like in its most remote parts.
PHOTOS OF SINUIJU – NORTH KOREA
FRIENDSHIP BRIDGE (CHINA – DPRK BORDER)
This first photo I took in 2017 when I first visited Dandong.
The photo shows what is across the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge in Sinuiju. An old ferris wheel (not working at the time) and a building under construction.
On this second photo, also from 2017, a better view of the first sight that welcomes any tourist visiting the DPRK from Sinuiju. Buildings half-constructed and a few tall buildings in the background, also under construction.
Construction is still underway as of November 2019, with an imposing new building on the shore of the border.
Besides this addition, however, not much has changed about the border. The small building with the blue roof still sits in an abandoned state, and the ferris wheel still doesn’t work.
THE DPRK ACROSS MOON ISLAND
Moon Island is a small piece of land and the closest area near to Sinuiju. Throughout the day, old fabrics can be seen with the naked eye and heard 24 hours a day.
FARMS AND MILITARY HOUSES
The following are some photos of farms and North Korean military housing, as seen from the top of the Hushan Great Wall in Dandong, the closest spot where to get a glimpse of North Korean life without crossing the border.
Even though the above photos may give an impression of something resembling freedom and open space, everywhere I looked there were always guards carefully watching the border on their towers.
FURTHER EAST ON SINUIJU
As I moved further east on the waters of the Yalu river, a glimpse of a more developed life on Sinuiju. The deserted landscape gave way to a few more houses and North Korean residents moving around through dusty roads, most of them on old bicycles.
MEANWHILE IN THE CHINESE BORDER
Things on the Chinese border city of Dandong in regards to North Korea are far from casual.
From posters promoting tours to North Korea and showing DPRK propaganda, to warnings on what not to do if getting too close to the border or eventually coming face-to-face with a North Korean resident.