North Korea, a Life Between Propaganda and Reality

Alice Wielinga

Like a forbidden fruit, North Korea appears irresistibly attractive. The attraction for the country is commensurate with its apparent inaccessibility. Admission to the country for journalists and photographers alike is difficult and only sporadically granted. Once inside, the state takes charge over itineraries, visits and interviews. North Korea’s obsession with how it is perceived results in fierce attempts at trying to maintain total control over information, both within the country and to the outside world.

An intuitive reaction by the recipients of such overbearing manipulation is to unmask North Korea’s utopian pretence by unveiling the dystopian reality shrouded in propaganda. Propelling such a reaction is a common sense understanding that propaganda and reality are each other’s polar opposites. On closer scrutiny, reality and propaganda are two sides of the same coin.