#1: © Damir Sagolj, Oct. 5, 2011, A picture of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, decorates a building in the capital Pyongyang / North Korea
#2: © David Guttenfelder, April 2011, Central Pyongyang at dusk / North Korea

Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj won first prize in the World Press Photo Daily Life Singles category with his photograph of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung on a wall in Pyongyang.

When I first saw Sagolj’s photograph a few weeks ago, I thought to myself: I’ve seen this image before. I checked my posts tagged with North Korea (sometimes being a category/tag-nerd pays off), and there it was: David Guttenfelder shot a photo from a very similar perspective (compare previous post). Two amazing pictures indeed - no wonder that Sagolj won the World Press Photo award, and no wonder that Guttenfelder is now the head of the photo department in North Koreans Associated Press bureau (see previous post).

First I thought that Damir Sagolj had a little more luck in terms of hotel room choice than his colleague David Guttenfelder, but today I read this statement on Reuters blog:

“After days of excitement and lots of rare pictures in the provinces, I came back to Pyongyang without big plans for shooting in the capital. All I wanted were some moody general views of the city. This is probably the easiest big picture I shot for a long time – it was taken from the window of my hotel room in Pyongyang early morning, just before the sunrise. I knew that portrait was there and I insisted with our hosts to get a room on a very high floor facing that direction. So, all I had to do is to wake up early in the morning, make a coffee, light a cigarette and make sure I exposed well. The scene has this eerie look for maybe 5 to 10 minutes, then the revolutionary songs and propaganda speeches from loudspeakers wake the city up.” (Damir Sagolj)

The Associated Press has opened a news bureau in Pyongyang, North Korea - a first for a Western news organisation. The bureau will feature a photo department managed by chief photographer David Guttenfelder.

The bureau’s opening comes six years after Associated Press Television News established its own officer in North Korea six years ago. Now, AP will be able to offer coverage from the country in all formats, it says in a statement sent to BJP this morning.

"After fruitful discussions with the Korea Central News Agency over a number of months, AP is thrilled by this historic opportunity to provide coverage from North Korea for our global audience," AP president and CEO Tom Curley says in the statement. (+)

© David Guttenfelder, 2011, Serie ‘Japan’s Nuclear Refugees’

'A hog wandering the deserted streets of downtown Namie discovered this feed store, where it gorged itself, then napped.'

I think that this picture says so much about what happened around Fukushima and what happens all around the world on a daily basis: exploit everyone & everything and lie down to sleep like nothing had happened.

One of my few music links (though I love music alot):
Thievery Corporation - The Richest Man In Babylon

© David Guttenfelder, April 2011, 'Central Pyongyang at dusk' / North Korea

North Korea has long been enigmatic - especially to the West. It is struggling with financial sanctions and international ostracization over its nuclear program. While some tourism, especially from China, has increased over the last few years, Western visitors remain scarce. With few exceptions foreigners cannot travel independently through North Korea. Only small numbers of foreign journalists are allowed limited access each year, and they must be accompanied by ‘minders’ wherever they go.
Few North Koreans communicate with the outside world, because even mild criticism of the state could lead to imprisonment or death. News travels sluggishly from one city to another. In the most censored country in the world (after an analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ), the world’s deepest information void, North Korea has no independent journalists, and all radio and television receivers sold in the country are locked to government-specified frequencies. Content is supplied almost entirely by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). The country’s grinding poverty or famines are never mentioned. (+, +)