Uncoloring North Korea

Shanghai-based photographer Ni Chen describes her time in North Korea as a surreal step back in time. “To be honest, whilst I don’t know much about North Korean politics, I was intrigued by this social system, one which was a stark contrast to anything that I have experienced before.” The most notable difference for her was the colors — or rather, the lack thereof. Pyongyang’s color palette consisted of blacks, grays, and navy blues. Shades of red, blue, and green were almost exclusively reserved for public facilities and ornaments.


在上海摄影师倪晨眼中,身处朝鲜的那段时间就像是一次回到过去的旅行。“关于朝鲜,老实说,对于政治我一无所知,只是好奇未曾经历过的社会体制。”对她来说,最大的区别在于色彩——这个国家的色彩相对寡淡。路上行人穿的衣服基本是黑/灰/藏青色,他们对红/蓝/绿十分执着,几乎只出现在所有公共设施和装饰上。

Ni Chen’s time in North Korea was split between Pyongyang and Kaesong; as most of the journey was heavily regulated, she was unable to capture some “truly beautiful” moments on camera. “After stepping out of the Pyongyang Railway Station, I found myself facing an iron-clad playground; it was a beautiful moment, observing these free-spirited kids playing. A shame that I couldn’t photograph them.” On her way to Kaesong, there was also an almost cinematic moment when a young boy stood on a hillside, watching their tour group’s bus drive by. He wore a green sweater and stared inquisitively at the vehicle as three crows flew past him. “That moment was so beautiful, it felt so much like a scene from an Andrei Tarkovsky film.”


倪晨在朝鲜期间主要去了平壤和开城两个城市。在朝鲜,游客会受到严格的管制,因此,有很多“真正美丽”的瞬间她都没有机会用镜头记录下来。从平壤火车站出来会经过一个儿童公园非常漂亮复古的铁质娱乐设施小孩子也都很高兴的样子可惜不允许下车拍照。” 从平壤到开城的巴士上,经过一个山坡时,有个穿绿色毛衣的小男孩站在山坡上观望着她所在的巴士,突然三只乌鸦从他身前掠过。她感慨道:“那是非常漂亮的瞬间,就像安德烈·塔科夫斯基的电影。

Ni Chen also visited the Pyongyang city library, which like typical libraries, feature a collection of books that are available for borrowing, but also courses for learning foreign languages. The most intriguing part of the visit was seeing how the computers in the library could only be accessed using LAN; locals are only able to use them to log on to North Korea’s tightly controlled Kwangmyong intranet system.


平壤市内的图书馆,除了借阅图书,还可以学习外语课程。图书馆内的电脑只能使用局域网, 人们可以登录到朝鲜的国家局域网路“光明网”(Kwangmyong Net)。

She also observed that the capital’s architecture was noticeably Soviet in style. Korean signage aside, this moment brought Ni Chen back to her time traveling and photographing Russia.


平壤的建筑受到了不少俄罗斯美学的影响尤其是那些有拱形过道的大楼。除了那些韩语标牌,这里的建筑让倪晨想起了自己在俄罗斯旅行和摄影的经历。

During the trip, one image of a girl reading on a public bus became one of Ni Chen’s favorites. “This was a candid moment that would not look out of place anywhere in the world.”


倪晨最喜欢的一张照片是在公交车上读书的女孩子。喜欢给在各地遇见的阅读者拍照即便是在色彩寡淡的平壤阅读者令这个地方生动了起来

Once outside of Pyongyang, Ni Chen managed to capture a moment that is truly out of the norm for most photographers that travel to North Korea. In the city of Kaesong, she serendipitously stumbled across a wedding. “They were just as surprised to see me as I was to find them. I could only guess that the collective reciting of revolutionary history and their fist pump actions were part of the ceremony.”


离开平壤后,倪晨捕捉到许多到朝鲜旅游的摄影师都难以拍摄到的画面。在开城,她偶然遇到了一场婚礼。“他们看到我时,和我一样吃惊。我猜测,猜拳可能是婚礼的一个传统,除此之外,他们还需要集体学习革命历史。”

Towards the end of her journey, she snapped an image of the small shark tank in the lobby of Pyongyang’s Yanggakdo International Hotel. “Whilst this hotel looked impressive from the outside, the furnishings and facilities inside reminded me of a local police station in one of China’s third or fourth-tier cities. This shark tank sort of symbolized North Korea as a whole to me – it’s a small nation that is trying so hard to appear terrifying.”


在这段旅程的结尾,她在平壤的羊角岛饭店的酒店大堂拍摄了养着鲨鱼的鱼缸。虽然酒店外观十分豪华但是内部装饰和设施都非常老派有点像中国三四线城市的小派出所。这个养着鲨鱼的鱼缸有些像朝鲜的一个缩影。

WeChat: linsam1990
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Contributor: Whitney Ng


微信: linsam1990
微博: ~/spancer
Instagram: @elephant.show

 

供稿人: Whitney Ng