Our Highsnobiety wanderings have seen us take to many foreign lands and off-kilter destinations, but none quite as mysterious as this. In a new photo set, photographer Adlan Mansri documents his time in the infamous hermit kingdom that is North Korea, before heading south to the ultra modern, antithetical planes of Seoul in South Korea.
Still technically at war with one another, the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two states is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world. The purpose of Adlan’s trip was not to report the differences between the two countries, but their similarities and what unites them.
“Our purpose was to make a reportage about Korea as one country and how it could be reunited some day. We first went to Pyongyang and Sinuiju, North Korea. It was complicated to take pictures because the guides were always following us, so I had to take quick snapshots. I knew I wouldn’t have any second chance to take a picture so I had to be smart with that. What we have seen there was something crazy: a mix of feelings. I’m not making any propaganda about North Korea, but people have to know not everything said about the country is true. Yes, it’s a socialist dictatorship based on a personality cult, yes there is working camp. But not everything is black or white. There is real people living in North Korea.”
After spending four days in Pyongyang, Adlan then made his way to Seoul. Electricity is still a novelty in most parts of North Korea, but the westernized South boasts one of the most modernized societies on the planet.
“We arrived in Seoul in a Ferry from Dandong, China. Seoul is an incredibly beautiful city. It was kind of weird to be in Seoul after Pyongyang. Seoul is the total opposite: an ultra capitalist city. We went to Cheorwon region at the border with North Korea. We met people there and talked to them about our Tongil Trip (“Tongil” means “Reunification” in Korean) which everybody speaks of,, but nobody is really doing something about. That’s where we met Hanna, a woman working to make Tongil (Reunification) happen.”
Shot on an analog camera, Adlan’s snaps juxtapose daily life between the two similar, yet unimaginably different countries. The pictures from 1 to 19 are from Pyongyang, North Korea, while 20 to 36 capture Seoul and the Region of Cheorwon in South Korea.
Check them out in the gallery above, and then experience the exotic beauty of Marrakech.
- Photography: Adlan Mansri / Highsnobiety