NorthKoreaPhotosThere’s a lot more to North Korea than Kim Jong Un.Eric Lafforgue

  • Photographer Eric Lafforgue visited North Korea six times to take photos of daily life in the isolated totalitarian country. 
  • Lafforgue was banned after his sixth trip to North Korea, in 2012, after he made an off-handed comment about a group of Spanish tourists visiting the country.
  • Much of what he saw in North Korea was the more privileged and affluent areas of North Korea, like Pyongyang, but he always requested to visit far-flung destinations in the country. He found that the further he traveled, the more he saw the reality of poverty in which most North Koreans live.

After publishing hundreds of photos from six visits to North Korea, it was an offhand comment that got French photographer Eric Lafforgue banned.

Lafforgue had seen Spanish tourists wearing Kim Jung Il shirts and told a friend that they likely wouldn’t wear them in Barcelona. The Spaniards heard it and told the guide. One month after returning from the trip, he received a letter with screen captures of his photos, saying they were not good for North Korea and that he could not return.

That was in 2012.

“They know that when I come, I take pictures. They prefer the tourism money, until it causes a problem for one of the people in charge,” Lafforgue told Business Insider.

Lafforgue has always been well aware of this, but throughout the years, he’s played “their game,” as he calls it, to produce some incredible photography. 

“The North Korean regime controls everything that goes out of the country,” he said. “Even me, when they let me take a picture of kids smiling, its because it’s good for the country. I take those pictures because there is a real part of the people that are happy and I want to document that … North Koreans are brainwashed, but they live like everybody in the world.” 

Lafforgue shared a stunning selection of photos from his many trips to North Korea with us. Many of the photos are available in a calender Lafforgue produced with North Korea-watching website NK News.

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