Panos Pictures’ twitter feed actually alerted me to this very interesting body of work by Tomas van Houtryve in North Korea (timely, eh). “Secrets and Lies”. Beyond the fascinating pictures the back story is incredible too.
Adopting the persona of a Belgian chocolate magnate, complete with disguise and funny accent, Tomas van Houtryve made his second trip to North Korea in February 2008. Despite his credentials as a foreign businessman keen to invest in the country, he faced hours of interrogation, was threatened by apparatchiks, and at one point was almost exposed as a journalist. His bold tactics gave him access to factories, hospitals and government offices, some of which had never before been seen by a Western photographer. He was also able to catch a fleeting glimpse of the lives of ordinary people.
Though the pictures were shot in February 2008, they might just be being released now? Curious, I’ll have to look in to this, but wanted to share first.
(Instant Update! I read on Tomas’ blog and newsletter that these images are currently being exhibited in Spain (through July 7) and were recently published in the great Foreign Policy Magazine which I think is on newsstands now. It seems the images have been out, at least for a few months, but this is the first time I’ve seen them… terrific stuff)