An American Spent The Fall In North Korea Teaching Computer Science -- Here Are The Pictures He Took

It’s not often that we get to see what life is really like in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Usually, what we end up hearing about are the horrific tales of the country’s hidden prison camps or the exploits of famous basketball stars visiting the country.

Will Scott is a computer science graduate student at the University of Washington and ex-Googler who spent last fall in North Korea teaching courses on Operating Systems and Databases at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Will documented much of his time spent in the DPRK via Instagram. Together with the descriptions of his adventure from his recent Reddit post, they give us a clearer picture of what life is like in North Korea.

Will with the class of seniors to whom he taught a course on Operating Systems. These will be the first CS students to graduate from the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Will also taught a class of juniors about Databases. The computer science program he taught under isn't open to female students.

According to Scott, residents of Pyongyang spend a huge amount of time keeping the streets and sidewalks in front of their homes and offices clean.

The Koryolink building in downtown Pyongyang. A joint venture between the state and Egyptian Orascom Telecom, Koryolink is the only 3G carrier in North Korea.

Will walking with his students to go take a class photo. Despite the conditions seen in our media, Will says the people he interacted with were just as happy as anyone else he's encountered: 'I think people conform happiness to whatever situation they're in.'

A spaceship play structure in the lobby of the Pyongyang Children's Palace. Will and his group were scolded when they tried to look at the cockpit area.

A bus being inspected in Pyongyang.

The classroom building for political and diplomatic majors at Kim Il Sung University. According to Will, this is 'real center of learning in the DPRK as far as I can make out.'

Some streetside propaganda in downtown Pyongyang.

Another poster in downtown Pyongyang.

Will providing technical guidance at the Pyongyang Children's Palace. You've got to love the big, beige CRT monitor.

What do Americans in North Korea do when they meet up? Take a group selfie, of course.

The Pyongyang Children's Palace runs a one hour long talent showcase every Thursday. According to Will, 'it ends up feeling like a showcase of the kids who spend their lives performing one trick every week and not getting time to actually grow up -- like just repeating the same show over and over again for foreigners.'

North Koreans have plenty of 'normal' entertainment -- here, you can see thousands leaving a soccer game in Pyongyang.

Near the DMZ, a sign supporting the reunification of Korea.

The lake in the center of the city of Anju, an industrial hotspot that's not typically shown to tourists.

A mural in the Pyongyang subway, advertised as the deepest in the world at a depth of 100 meters below ground.

An inspirational sign at the school Will taught at. It says: 'Put your feet on the ground and let your eyes behold forever.'

The winding road along the Myohyang mountain, about three hours out from Pyongyang.

Looking at the DMZ from the north. In this shot, most of the South Korean soldiers aren't even there -- they went out to lunch.

A scoreboard from a friendly sports competition held at the school.

North Korean kids heading home from school.

A construction site for a new greenhouse outside of the school. The yellow Volkswagen Beetle in the poster seems a bit out of place.

The famous reunification arch on the road to Kaesong from Pyongyang.

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