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 This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!

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Zaruka
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PostSubject: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Wed May 19, 2010 9:52 pm

Just back from the Chinese Consulate for my open visa. I have been trying to get Koryo Tours to let me go to more locations to photograph the traffic girls and of course that is very hard to do but now that I know some folks in Pyongyang I am going to see what I can do.

I have one visit scheduled in late November (taking the entire family!) to shoot the winter uniforms this time. My wife is a photographer too so lets see what she can do. It will be the usual tour but I have a half day free so I am going to see what I can do to get some other intersections. The last trip I really was reeled in after they saw me at some "unauthorized locations." I confessed and made my apology. They made sure I understood the will of the Dear Leader.

At this time I have been working on getting a few other angles on intersections in August. I have not committed to the August 10 day trip yet but it is likely I will be going. The decline of the Euro is a very strong incentive to go. Again I would have a half day free and would be asked what I would like to do. I want more intersections and angles. I want to get closer too. Koryo cannot commit to anything.

I am purchasing some new cameras and some larger lenses. I want better close ups.

I will get more photos in any case. This is not that easy and the locals are touchy but if you go back they get friendlier. A few gifts may help.

I have requested to go to the traffic girl school but they turned me down. I will ask when I am there. If I could do that I would probably do more video. Forget the Mass Games, I want the ballet that is the Pyongyang Traffic Girls.

Zaruka
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Dear Leader
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Fri May 21, 2010 7:39 pm

Sounds fascinating. You say that you were reeled in after they saw you at some "unauthorized locations" - I thought they required a NK "guide" to stick to all tourists like glue. How could you be at unauthorized locations if their minder is right there? Or are there occasions where they give you some leeway in your visit?

Also, I've always wondered - do you think they have done a background check on you, and other returning tourists? I mean, like have they looked up your flickr site etc. and seen your posts and comments about the DPRK?
I would think that they should like people spreading the images of their country on the internet - I don't know why they would deny someone from visiting the traffic police school/acadamy, if they think they have been fair with them in the past. It's not like it's a big secret, there's even a video with some scenes that appear to be taken at the school. I know they are aware that the trafficgirls are a popular attraction for visitors, and outside the country.

I'm looking forward to seeing more PTG pics and video you return with after your next visits. Thanks for the heads up and for sharing!
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Zaruka
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Fri May 21, 2010 9:17 pm

I sneak away when I can. Staying in the Koryo hotel in central downtown (not on Alkatraz island, known as the Yanggakdo International Hotel) allows you to walk the streets at night if you can sneak away. It is pitch dark so no one knows if you are a Korean. Everyone is sneaking out to smoke so I follow and walk a few blocks. This photo was taken on a walk.

I don't recommend it if you are caught but the temptation is too great. I stay within a block or two but I have watched locals using cell phones this way. If you grab a guide they will sometimes walk with you around the hotel.
After they begin to trust you they will lighten up. I had them stop the bus once and it worked!
Background check - Koryo Tours screens for journalists and professional photographers. Those people are excluded. I don't write (yet) so I am ok. Have they looked? If they have it has been mostly flattering. I don't think they do. I am a big fan of Eric Lafforgue and I cannot figure out who he is going with. He is getting great shots.
As for posts, I tend to ask for a factual look. Since we know so little and there are no experts on the DPRK we should begin building a knowledge of the country based on facts, not garbage. Some of the rumors on the place do not pass the giggle test. Why do they do what they do? Viewing the DPRK through the Cold War is not very productive. Beginning from a point of hating them is foolish. I go to listen and believe me I have listened to a load of propaganda sessions. Some not used to it have problems but I once attended a religious school and know how to turn off the brainwashing.

The DPRK is learning tourism. I think places there are priceless and the culture is unspoiled. We shall see what develops. I am willing to bet that the traffic girls would stay at some intersections even if they got traffic lights.

I predict 50 years after the regime is gone there will be nostalgia for Kim and part of that will be the traffic girls. There are Mao themed restaurants in Beijing and there will be with Kim and I think the traffic girls will be waitresses. It will be the hottest place in town.

They love to choreograph everything for a variety of reasons. One is that they love to show the best of their country and another is to not show some bad things. Image is everything. I have been in non-choreographed situations and they show the real DPRK. They avoid the unstaged and so I think that you have to apply long in advance. Also the tour company has to want to do it. Annoying the DPRK hosts is not a good idea. If a guide knows someone at the place you want to go, that helps.

They are a bit mystified at the fascination with the traffic girls. They are proud of them but they get a chuckle out of it. To them it makes no sense. Would you not rather see one of our Kim monuments? Yeah well the traffic girls are more fun.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sat May 22, 2010 4:37 pm

Don't get caught taking pictures of "unauthorized locations" or you could end up with a 10 year prison sentence as another barganing chip in their propaganda war.
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Zaruka
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sat May 22, 2010 8:34 pm

Indeed that would be true. However consider the fact of the book contract for undergoing the ordeal. From NPR:

"Laura and Lisa Ling's book about the five-month ordeal is called Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other Sister's Fight to Bring Her Home. Lisa Ling is also the author of Mother, Daughter, Sister, Bride: Rituals of Womanhood. "

Now I tend to think they should have been arrested for violating the border but book contracts are sometimes made from unpleasant experiences. The book business makes me sick.

I avoid that kind of thing generally. I did spend 24 hours in a Soviet jail but promised the authorities I would not make a big deal out of it. The borscht and black bread were great and I fondly remember that.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sun May 23, 2010 2:21 am

lol - "I did spend 24 hours in a Soviet jail "
I don't think I'll even ask about that one....
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Zaruka
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sun May 23, 2010 12:01 pm

I was stip searched by the Volpos at Friedrichstrasse in 1985. They let me go and it was the first time I had ever seen a Volpo (we called the females Volpettes) giggle. (I told her I would disrobe for her).
The arrest by the Syrian Army on the Damascus road in 1982 was worse. I was scared that night. It was during the seige of Beirut. I respect the Syrian Army now. They pulled me because of a Hezbollah roadblock up the road.

The Cold War was an interesting time. I miss the adventures behind the Iron Curtain but still the DPRK is a place to practice the arts learned in the old days.
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JIMBIALEK
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Wed May 26, 2010 9:22 am

A cop once gave me a traffic ticket for doing a slow roll through a stop sign ..... that's about all I got.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sat May 29, 2010 9:57 pm

On Friday I signed up for the August 10 day Koryo tour. I will be in Pyongyang and in the Northeast of the country. Despite the current tension I feel I need to get into the famine zone.
I will photograph as many traffic girls as I can. I need a new crop of photos.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sun May 30, 2010 2:03 am

I'm surprised that with the recent events, they would still be welcoming to tourists, not to mention American tourists. Do they take into account if someone is a return visitor?

Good luck with the trip - see if you can get a pic of you or your wife with a trafficgirl. Here's one guy who did - I don't know the occasion


Hopefully the authorities will let you see the PTG acadamy, or the dormitory! bounce
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Zaruka
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sun May 30, 2010 10:17 am

One indicator of a drop off in interest in the DPRK is the Facebook site for the DPRK football team in the world cup. There are three people linked to the site. I am wondering what the size of groups are that are going in. I am going to email each of my contacts in the US and Beijing to find out what the size of the groups are. I know one person here that cancelled due to rising tensions. Me - I want in during rising tensions. This is the time to go. Hey, the hotel will be empty. But wait, it is always empty!

Love the photo. Indeed, it is possible to get a photo with a traffic girl but man it is rare to do anything there. I am grateful for what I have seen that others have not but something so simple should be possible.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:49 am


Kinda creepy-looking picture. She looks scared to death, uncomfortable. Look at her clenched hand. I betcha those injuries on his face are where she scratched him trying to fight him off. And why is her sleeve stained??
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:14 am

lol - he does look a bit lecherous in that picture, doesn't he? Never fear, I'm sure there were NK guides nearby watching out for her.
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Fri Jun 11, 2010 6:06 pm

That picture gives me another great idea - they could have life-size cardboard cut-outs of traffic women for the tourists to pose with. They'd pay money to have a souvenir picture like that!
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PostSubject: Re: This years planned DPRK visits - More Traffic Girl photos!   Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:22 pm

see if you can get a picture with a group of traffic girls. The more the better !
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