28 Snapshots Of Daily Life In Pyongyang, North Korea

If you've ever wondered what life in North Korea looks like, the following pictures from the country's capital, Pyongyang, provide actual snapshots into the lives of urban North Koreans. Though the age of smartphones usually allows for maximum documentation, Pyongyang photos remain difficult to find given the country's self-imposed isolation and a citizen population largely unaware of the outside world. In fact, the only real consistent photos of life in North Korea usually revolve around its dictator, Kim Jong Un, who maintains a state of practical godliness over his people.

Foreigners visiting North Korea are highly restricted in terms of where they are allowed to go and what they are allowed to take pictures of. Thus, even visiting the country doesn't provide the entire story. But many of the following photos taken by more bold and daring photographers show an attempt to depict the real Pyongyang, thereby giving the outside world a small idea of what life is like in North Korea.

Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License

  • Inside A Pyongyang Supermarket

    Inside A Pyongyang Supermarket
    Photo: Simonkoryo / Instagram

    The gin aisle inside one of Pyongyang's two supermarkets. Tourists are permitted inside of these stores, where imported goods are plentiful, and upper middle class North Koreans can afford to shop.

  • A Child Waits To See His Father In Parade

    A Child Waits To See His Father In Parade
    Photo: Instagram

    This young boy waits for his father's battalion to pass in a military parade for Day of the Sun. The April 15th holiday marks the birthday of Kim Il-sung, founder and former president of North Korea.

  • A Packed City Bus

    The bus system in Pyongyang is often overcrowded, with passenger queues stretching several blocks. 

  • A Street View Of The Ryugyong Hotel

    The Ryugyong Hotel overlooking a sparsely packed street. One-hundred-five stories tall with five rotating restaurants at the top, it cost North Korea 2% of their GDP, nearly $750 million dollars.

  • Two Men Play Korean Chess

    Two tour guides play a fold-up Korean chess game. Known as janggi, there are seven different types of pieces, and each side of the board is called a palace.

  • Orderly Lines In Kim Il-sung Square

    Orderly Lines In Kim Il-sung Square
    Photo: Stephan / Flickr

    Uniformed North Korean students are lined up for a festival or rally in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. The 37th largest square space in the world, Kim Il-sung Square can hold over 100,000 people.