NO!…NO’s!… recorded!


Every day it happened several times that I was reprimanded or hindered in taking photos or shooting a video. Sometimes it was physically made impossible by our guides to take pictures  or – when they did not succeed – they tried to interfere, stood in my way and blocked my view.

To shoot a farmworker woman in Mount Kuwol area - "No! No! It is NOT allowed!"

To get me in line, they also threatened me openly that everything would be confiscated at the airport on my departure. I knew that this could be the case since it had happened to another traveler at Pyongyang railway station upon his arrival by train from Beijing. He had taken photos in the train and somebody had informed against him. All his shots were deleted by a security official when he passed the exit checkpoint at the railway station in Pyongyang. I felt inevitably reminded of the former Sovietunion where we had traveled in the 1960s extensively by car and two times with the Trans-Siberian-Railway, once on our way to Japan in 1969 and the second time in 1987 from Zurich through the Sovietunion, Mongolia to China till Hongkong. Photos of the locomotive with the red star of the Trans-Sib-Train, shots of the typically wooden houses and their backyards, of people and countryside, just about everything got me in trouble in Russia at that time. Time has not only not changed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Actually it is worse than I initially thought. Controls were tight and severe restrictions were imposed. I could not leave the Hotel in Pyongyang on my own and not in any other City we traveled to. I could never freely walk the streets of Pyongyang, Sariwon, Kaesong, Wonsan or any other place we visited. In Sariwon, two girls dancing to the singing and clapping of their parents were told to stop when the local guide noticed that I was filming. In Pyongyang we tried to go by tram or bus, but though we insisted, we couldn’t even get close to public transport.

Public transport like tram or bus in Pyongyang was out of reach for us.

Friendshipstores were the only shops foreigners could enter and buy goods –  with one exception. In Wonsan City, though my guide tried to hinder me I went in a local cloth shop and bought some tights for my wife. Unofficial contact with people in the street or countryside was cut immediatly. Only with a good portion of “Zivilcourage” I could get my way… sometimes.

Drinkingwater turned into a state secret

But often I could not like this picture shows in the streets of Pyongyang at a little kiosk where I wanted to buy a cup of drinking water like everybody else. Most trivial undertakings turned suddenly into state secrets.

4 Responses to NO!…NO’s!… recorded!

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