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David Guttenfelder’s award-winning photos from North Korea

Guttenfelder traffic cops
Female traffic police officers gather in front of bronze statues of the North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to pay their respects in Pyongyang. David Guttenfelder / AP via Washington Post

David Guttenfelder is the Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia. Although he’s now based in Tokyo, last year he spent around 100 days in Pyongyang for AP. His first time on the Korean peninsula was to witness the first of the family reunions between North and South, and his first time in Pyongyang was when Madeleine Albright visited Kim Jong-il. He was recently honored for his photojournalism at the 2013 Infinity Awards by the International Center for Photography. The video about his work in North Korea concludes with the following comment:

You know, the most mundane pictures sometimes are the ones that are the most powerful. Especially in [North] Korea. And if I can show people shopping, commuting to work, laughing, you know, getting in an argument, all the things you do anywhere else in the world. It starts to build a connection between people, them and the outside world. And there’s no connection right now.

Surreal and mysterious, North Korea was a black hole to outsiders wanting a glimpse of the country. That all changed in 2012, when AP photographer David Guttenfelder led the opening of the bureau’s newest office inside the North Korea. See the project at


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