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Reading the news
15 September 2005 David Astley

Reading the news

Pyongyang, North Korea

This photograph from North Korea is of ‘real’ people. It was taken on the platform of a metro station in Pyongyang where there are a number of these stands where people can read the news. I don’t know whether this is the only place people can read newspapers – because I didn’t see anyone carrying newspapers in North Korea, and I certainly didn’t see any news stands on the streets or shops selling newspapers (in fact I didn’t see any shops at all apart from the souvenir shop and bookshop in my hotel).

On the plane from Beijing to Pyongyang, foreigners are given a weekly English language newspaper called the Pyongyang Times, so I can only describe that and guess whether the local newspapers in the Korean language might be similar.

The Pyongyang Times contains 8 pages, and the front page of the copy I received was given over to a story which was headlined ‘Kim Jong Il provides on-the-spot guidance to various sectors” and accompanied by a photograph of the great leader giving advice to soldiers of Unit 292 of the Korean People’s Army (I have posted a copy of it in the workshop – it is priceless, so you must have a look!).

Most of page 2 was devoted to stories on the 57th anniversary of the glorious motherland and the drafting of the North Korea’s constitution which was “discussed secretly amongst the patriotic people of south Korea in spite of acts of terror and oppression by the US and its stooges”. Page 3 contained stories about scientific achievements in the rural areas and a farm machinery show, and page 4 was all about the Arirang festival.

Page 5 contained two stories about the late Kim Il Sung’s instructions to inspire people to national reunification; a story about how “the flames of the people’s struggle for anti-US independence and the withdrawal of US troops are raging across south Korea”; and a story detailing 170 acts of aerial espionage committed against North Korea by the US during the month of August”.

Pages 6 and 7 were given over to a double-page photo spread titled “Six decades of man-killing and destruction”. The photographs were all gory pictures of dead bodies, severed heads and mangled corpses, and accompanied by captions like “American soldiers smiling at the killing of innocent civilians”, “Women wail over their dead sons that American soldiers had shot as a training target”, and “Two GIs glad about killing a south Korean boy”. The photos weren’t dated but looked like they were 50 years old.

The last page was devoted to sports news – a report on a table tennis championship, an angling competition and the Fifth National Farmers’ Folk Games.

The only international news in the paper were two paragraphs tucked away on the bottom of page 2 which said that the North Korean Red Cross Society had sent a message of sympathy to the American Red Cross over the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina recently.

It was all fascinating reading!

Hope you don't mind the sepia treatment for this composition - I thought it helped give it the right 'atmosphere'.

Nikon D100 , Nikkor AF-S 24-120/3.5-5.6G ED

other sizes: small medium large original
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