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North and South Korea held their first military talks in two years last week, and North Korea released a photograph of the heir apparent to Kim Jong-il, his son, Kim Jong-un. Having systematically isolated itself from the world, North Korea remains a paranoid militarized society and a mystery to much of the west. Today, as ever, much of what is said about North Korea is based more on speculation than firsthand reporting.
Posing as an investor looking to open a chocolate factory, photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve managed to slip into North Korea twice. He was interrogated, threatened and almost exposed as a journalist. The bold tactics gave him access to factories, hospitals and government offices, some of which had never been captured by a Western photographer.
Music: “The Unforgettable Top of Mount Osung” recorded by The Korean People’s Army Merited Chorus.
Note: This photo slideshow can be found in VII Magazine’s archives. To view it, visit the VII Magazine page and click on the “Features” tab.