Location: Sydney, Australia
Mention of 'North Korea' evokes a very specific mental image, dominated by military parades, the leaders and the famine of the 1990s. Until a sudden, apparent turnaround in 2018, the country's reputation had deteriorated to a possible nadir by late 2017 with a surge in weapons testing and the tragic death of a detained US tourist. Even so, life in North Korea has always been far more layered than outsiders might believe and there are many unseen sides that have largely escaped mainstream attention.
This series, entitled 'Searching for North Korea', was compiled across a two-year survey of all corners of the country. It explores those other sides of North Korea that are rarely shown, in an attempt to go past the cliché and open unexpected yet useful, new perspectives to the viewer.
None of this is to say that life in North Korea is one of constant singing, visits to the beach or fun fairs. But nor is it a constant military parade or weapons test. Surprisingly for those who have not been there, street-level North Koreans enjoy many of the same things anyone does, even as they inhabit a truly unique social and political landscape.
These images are of particular relevance now in light of the nascent rapprochement with South Korea and even the USA, all of which seemed unthinkable barely six months ago. They offer an opportunity to recalibrate and reinterpret some of the entrenched perspectives on North Korea within the framework of this shifting paradigm.