Photo: Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt
From outside, it’s hard to ever really know what is going on in North Korea — the Hermit state is one of most secretive nations on earth. However, there are reports that things are changing in the country.
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Stephanie T. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the China and North East Asia Project Director of the International Crisis Group (ICG), recently visited North Korean capital Pyongyang, and then journeyed to South Hyanghan and Kangwon provinces. Stephanie has been kind enough to provide us with pictures of her trip, which we have published with her captions.
Stephanie describes her experience:
In comparison with previous visits (this was my fourth), the city of Pyongyang displayed greater signs of relative prosperity. mobile phones have now become the latest accessory (there are apparently one million). New buildings and stores have popped up everywhere, some stores even well-stocked with luxury items. There is a lot of new construction. An increase in the number of cars is leading to mini traffic-jams, unheard of just a few years ago. At night, parts of Pyongyang are lit up like a Christmas tree, in contrast to solid darkness. However, despite these changes, the countryside remains desperately poor, with scant signs of improvement or investment. There is almost no mechanization: people are still using ox carts and wheelbarrows. Electricity is highly erratic. Life outside of Pyongyang is certainly still very harsh. The urban/rural divide has become even starker.
(If you’d like to see more of Stephanie’s photos, check out her website)
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