When photographer Eric Lafforgue took photos of North Korea this year, he never expected to be banned from the rogue state for his entire life. North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, was strongly opposed to anyone outside his country from seeing these photos because the images reveal the shocking extent of the deprivation suffered by people who live there. “Since 2008, I have ventured to North Korea six times,” he said. “Thanks to digital memory cards, I was able to save photos that I was forbidden to take or was told to delete by the minders.”
Here are the 38 photographs of North Korea that ultimately got Lafforgue banned for the rest of his life.
North Korea does not allow anyone to photograph people who appear to be suffering from malnutrition.
You are not allowed to photograph anything that resembles poverty or hardship.
It’s okay to take photos of kids on computers, just not when the photograph shows that the computers have no power.
He was asked to delete all photos of malnutrition like this photo below.
He was told to delete this photo because officials feared that this photo would show this man as being dead. He was actually alive, but just resting after a long day.
This photo portrays poverty which is illegal to photograph and share with the world.
The power went out while Eric Lafforgue was taking this picture. He was told to delete it and was told that when the power goes out, it’s because of the American embargo.
Taking pictures of people who ride their bikes for hours each way to get to work is forbidden.
North Korea says foreign aid is a war debt and taking photos of any WFP sign is forbidden.
North Korea doesn’t allow any photographs of soldiers to be taken, especially when soldiers are pushing a broken down bus.
The picture above is a rare example of an undisciplined child. The bus was driving along the road when this boy stood in right in front of it. Pictures of undisciplined citizens are definitely illegal in North Korea.
This picture was banned because it depicts poverty and difficult living conditions in North Korea.
This photo was not supposed to be taken because officials do not allow pictures of the army.
Soldiers seemed to be everywhere Eric was allowed to go. Taking pictures of the soldiers is banned, making most of his shots illegal.
This image shows women and children doing manual labor, repairing walkway borders, which is also illegal to photograph.
The regime considers pictures showing smiles under portraits of the leadership to be very disrespectful. “Never take a picture where you can see people doing silly things in front of the Kim portraits.”
The photographer got in trouble for taking this one because ‘the painting was unfinished.’
You were allowed to take photos of animals, as long as soldiers were not in frame, but that is a little difficult to do when the soldiers made up 99% of the crowd.
Another illegal photograph because it is taken of a soldier.
This was also illegal because it depicted poverty.
According to officials, this photo represents that North Koreans have to eat grass to live. This man is collecting edible greens to add to his dinner.
More images of poverty in North Korea.
He was asked to delete this image because it shows an older building in need of repair.
The photographer was told to delete this photo because it included the tunnel.
He was told to remove this one because it showed children working in a field.
This photograph was illegal as well because it showed a man fishing for his meal.
Officials wanted him to delete this photo because it shows a man bathing in a dirty river.
Although cars are becoming more and more common in Pyongyang, most citizens aren’t used to seeing them. Kids play in the middle of the road just like they did when the cars didn’t exist in this region.
The photographer was also told not to use flash because it would scare people.
Again, no photos of military at all.
He was only allowed to take a photo of these two after this guy’s shirt was straightened.
Officials hate photographs of their country that show anything involving soldiers, especially when they rest.
“North Koreans are very paranoid. I was asked to delete the picture since the guides were certain I would have said those people were homeless – they were just resting.”
“You are supposed to see fun at the Songdowon Children’s Camp but some come from the country and are scared of escalators which they’ve never seen before.”
“Officials took issue with this photo for two reasons: The teen is wearing his cap in a strange way (according to my guide), and there are soldiers in the background.”
“Queuing is a national sport for North Koreans,” says Lafforgue. This photo shows people waiting for a chance to catch the bus to work.
It is forbidden to take photos of people if they are not well dressed, manicured, or clean.
All images courtesy of Eric Lafforgue
These photographs from North Korea prove that they are very worried on how the rest of the world views them. So much so that they completely limit what you can photograph, that is if they even allow you to visit their country. To completely ban a person from ever entering the country again seems a bit extreme to me, but this is coming from a very extreme place with a very extreme leader. These photographs from North Korea are not at all what I was expecting to see.