British Council Exhibition Lays Bare Everyday Life in North Korea

Dancer Ri Hyang Yon, 21, practices her routine for the Arirang Games at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. Photo: Nick Danziger, courtesy British Council.
Dancer Ri Hyang Yon, 21, practices her routine for the Arirang Games at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang. Photo: Nick Danziger, courtesy British Council.

A new exhibition of work by photojournalist Nick Danziger at the British Council offices in London offers an unprecedented look at North Korean life and culture, reports the Guardian.

While journalistic visits to North Korea are possible, Danziger was able to move beyond the carefully monitored tourist itinerary to capture unstaged scenes of everyday life in the notoriously isolated communist country.

Though it was a constant struggle, the photographer was able to work with his minders to arrange meetings and photo shoots with average North Korean citizens, such as hair dressers and fishermen, going about their normal lives.

There has been no advance publicity for the exhibition, which has had to be postponed twice, due to concerns that the show could damage the UK’s already strained relations with the DPKR. Nevertheless, the British Council hopes the work can also be shown in Pyongyang, as well as Japan and China.

“The arts occupy space where politics, diplomacy, trade and business cannot go,” Graham Sheffield, director of arts at the British Council, told the Guardian. “We open conversations, we engage with difficult issues, we build trust—so that a broader form of international engagement and understanding can follow.”

Above the Line: People and Places in the DPRK (North Korea)” is on view at the British Council in London through July 25.


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