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 I have returned from Pyongyang - A report

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Zaruka
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PostSubject: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:58 am

As I came through customs I noticed my guide from 2008, Mr. Lee, waiting for the latest group of newbies to arrive. He greeted me and asked me to do something. I had deep political discussions with him last October and we got to know each other. He asked me to look around and see if I noticed any changes from last year. I was surprised, changes here? I assured him I would be in touch. I was meeting up with a group of seven Americans to become the first to go into the countryside.

I noticed the traffic immediately. Gasoline is more abundant and the streets have traffic. Certainly not as much as any smaller Chinese city, but there is traffic and even after 10 pm when the traffic girls leave their posts. They actually have traffic to manage.

I was photographing traffic girls at every turn and came back with hundreds of photos. Some are going up on my Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka and some I am holding back. I shot in film as well as digital trying to capture colors or different times of day. Night was the real difficult time but with light bulbs in the umbrellas they had an eery glow in the intersection.

My attempts to have a photograph with a traffic girl were dashed as she refused. I find them to be shy as I have had encounters with two of them. They are a bit embarassed to be photographed as I can tell when I shoot them from corners.

Some differences this year - the photo restrictions are fading slowly. Even people in Pyongyang now have digital cameras and photography is becoming common. I was detained for "inappropriate photography" once and had to empty my camera of bad photos. I was shooting a traffic girl and an "inappropriate building" was in the photos. I immediately made my self-criticism, bowing to the wisdom of the Dear Leader and moved on. The security man said, "I know you can get the photo back when you return home." I didnt bother because it was a bad photo anyway. Trash is appearing as plastic and paper are back in Pyongyang. I even managed to find a daily Pyongyang Korean newspaper. Things have improved as food kiosks are back and small things are for sale. Last year nothing like that was seen HOWEVER there is not much cash so few Koreans are buying. This is Pyongyang, not the other smaller cities I visited. It is worse there.

If you wonder about the "Italian Pizza Restaurant" I went there (after asking) and did a photoshoot there.

No traffic girls are seen outside Pyongyang in the cities of Nampo, Sariwon, Haeju and Sinchon. Men in similar uniforms direct traffic around accidents and dead bodies (I kid you not.) The traffic girl I photographed in the sports area of town alone is as far out of Pyongyang as I have seen them. Actually I am seeing them at intersections not seen last year and not all have blue umbrellas. Men usually patrol the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Trivia: Women are not allowed to ride bicycles in the inner city in Pyongyang. Statistics showed they were dying at a higher rate than men so they were banned in about 2002.

The times traffic girls worked in September were 7 am to 10 pm. I watch them change often but I have not figured out the interval - 30 minutes or 20 minutes, perhaps someone else knows this.

I plan to return next year at harvest time unless I can get a pass to the Flower Show in April. If you want to go to the DPRK you can go through Koryo Tours in Beijing and Asia 1on1 (see www.northkorea1on1.com). It is reasonable and you would not regret going. This is like no other place on the planet. If you want to photograph traffic girls, tell the guides and they will help you. It is easier than you think.

Ray Cunningham
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Dear Leader
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Sat Oct 03, 2009 4:27 am

Thanks for sharing your NK experience with us here. It's good to hear from someone who has seen the country (and the PTGs!) firsthand. Too bad you didn't get your picture taken with that TG, but it's cute that they're shy.

So traffic has increased since last time, I have read the same thing somewhere. Traffic at 10pm must mean they've got some place to go, which I assume means that there are restaurants or movies or clubs open. A bit different than what I thought Pyongyang is like. As for the dead bodies in other cities, a) why wouldn't they remove them, and b) is it really that common to see them? Direct traffic around them? Bizarre. No taking pictures of THAT, I'm sure.

I love this PTG at the sports arena picture you mentioned - it's kind of surreal looking. I must say, she looks very lonely.


And thanks for these pics that you let be an 'exclusive' to this site, I put them in the photo gallery.
click on thumbnails for larger

That side by side one is amazing, same girl, same intersection and you caught her in exactly the same pose - right down to the twist in the leg - as a year ago. wow.

Note: The traffic girl shift times were found on another site and are posted Here - if the info is still correct. Perhaps the times may vary as needed.

I also think the guides may help with photographing the TGs because they must realize they are becoming quite well-known outside the DPRK and are good free publicity for their country.

Trafficgirl working


Last edited by Dear Leader on Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:52 am; edited 2 times in total
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Jong-Il's Hair Apparent
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Sat Oct 03, 2009 9:59 pm

Welcome and kudos for the trip and all the pictures.
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Mayor_of_Pyongyang
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Sun Oct 04, 2009 8:19 pm

Thanks for the interesting info. Very informative.
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Mon Oct 05, 2009 4:55 am

Zaruka wrote:

I was photographing traffic girls at every turn and came back with hundreds of photos. Some are going up on my Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka and some I am holding back. I shot in film as well as digital trying to capture colors or different times of day. Night was the real difficult time but with light bulbs in the umbrellas they had an eery glow in the intersection.
Ray Cunningham
I posted all the Trafficgirl pictures from your trip in this thread http://www.pyongyangtrafficgirls.com/ptg-pictures-f4/many-new-ptg-photos-from-ray-cunningham-dprk-trip-sept-2009-t155.htm

Trafficgirl turning
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Jong-Il's Hair Apparent
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:24 pm

Dear Leader wrote:
click on thumbnails for larger

That side by side one is amazing, same girl, same intersection and you caught her in exactly the same pose - right down to the twist in the leg - as a year ago. wow.
She also got a promotion, she now has 3 stripes on her shoulder.
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Mon Oct 26, 2009 7:36 pm

Thanks Ray i enjoy the pics
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Raymasaki
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Sat Apr 03, 2010 10:23 am

Thanks for the pictures Amazing!
i did check out the link to Flikr dot com.
Hey i noticed you seem to be free to Travel throughout NK did you have
a Minder/Guide? IF so did they let you take pics of Trafic Girls?
also im curious how people get the Pics Out of NK they must search you
luggage & everything before you leave the country also.
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:13 am

Raymasaki wrote:
Thanks for the pictures Amazing!
i did check out the link to Flikr dot com.
Hey i noticed you seem to be free to Travel throughout NK did you have
a Minder/Guide? IF so did they let you take pics of Trafic Girls?
also im curious how people get the Pics Out of NK they must search you
luggage & everything before you leave the country also.
They have let many tourists take pictures of traffic women.
Ray may be going back to NK this summer, and possibly be allowed to take some pictures of the traffic police school/acadamy.


Last edited by Dear Leader on Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:49 am

hey thats Great!
that would be awsome too if you get some pic of their
Trafic police school. Please post them here, of course anyone on
this site would like to see them,
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Jong-Il's Hair Apparent
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:50 pm

How could he take pictures of a traffic girl school? I thought they only allow pictures of touristy things.
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catcher22
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:49 pm

Just the concept that they "let" and "allow" pictures of things would keep me from visiting there anytime soon.
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Zaruka
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Fri May 21, 2010 12:32 pm

I am always trying to expand my reach in the DPRK. As Eric Lafforgue has said it is really difficult to photograph with the guides/guards all around. I find it challenging. When you make a request to go to a school or factory they decline but sometimes things happen and it becomes possible. I would rather be led around in the DPRK than go to the beach. It is the most fascinating place on the planet.

If they do not shoot tourists then I don't want to go there. - Zaruka
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Dear Leader
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Fri May 21, 2010 8:58 pm

Zaruka wrote:
I am always trying to expand my reach in the DPRK. As Eric Lafforgue has said it is really difficult to photograph with the guides/guards all around. I find it challenging. When you make a request to go to a school or factory they decline but sometimes things happen and it becomes possible. I would rather be led around in the DPRK than go to the beach. It is the most fascinating place on the planet.

If they do not shoot tourists then I don't want to go there. - Zaruka
Perhaps they will allow you a bit more flexibility with what you photograph on your next trip, since you are a return visitor.
And I hope they don't shoot you, in spite of your wish. Wink
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ligiahag7902
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PostSubject: Re: I have returned from Pyongyang - A report   Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:10 am

Dear Leader wrote:
Zaruka wrote:

I was photographing traffic girls at every turn and came back with hundreds of photos. Some are going up on my Flickr site http://www.flickr.com/photos/zaruka and some I am holding back. I shot in film as well as digital trying to capture colors or different times of day. Night was the real difficult time but with light bulbs in the umbrellas they had an eery glow in the intersection.
Ray Cunningham
I posted all the Trafficgirl pictures from your trip in this thread http://www.pyongyangtrafficgirls.com/ptg-pictures-f4/many-new-ptg-photos-from-ray-cunningham-dprk-trip-sept-2009-t155.htm

Trafficgirl turning
Such a very amazing link!
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