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Olaf Schuelke


Commuters in Pyongyang Metro. North Korea 2012

Olaf Schuelke (b.1968, Germany) graduated from The University of Stuttgart with a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Design and worked as an architect in Germany and Ireland before completely turning to photography in 2011. Olaf has traveled extensively over the past 20 years and focuses on self-driven documentary projects and street photography around Asia. His work has been published in Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel, Berliner Zeitung, Stern, Discovery Channel Magazine, La Vanguardia Magazine and CNN. His images are currently distributed by Sueddeutsche Zeitung Photo. He is currently based in Singapore.

About the Photograph:

This photo is from my project about daily life in North Korea. It’s of local North Korean commuters inside a Pyongyang Metro on an early weekday morning. The subway trains were purchased from Berlin in the late nineties and now run on the two lines that make up the Pyongyang metro system 100 meters below the city. Inside each compartment small frames holding the images of the former two North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are displayed. Western visitors are only allowed to ride the metro for a short number of stops at the most impressive stations. Despite the increasing number of foreigners that now come to visit the last Stalinist regime of North Korea one cannot move around freely and are always accompanied by minders. They constantly keep an eye on the visitors and any contact with local North Koreans is impossible. New destinations inside the isolated country are slowly emerging and more places that were previously off limits are now accessible. Public transport outside of Pyongyang does not exist apart from a very limited number of buses in other cities. The people shown in this image are privileged residents of Pyongyang. They live a much better life than the rest of the North Korean population.”


[via Verve Photo- The New Breed of Documentary Photographers]

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