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‘Enter PyongYang’ | Walk Into North Korea Through This Hyperlapse Of Unprecented Access

By Kishore Sawh on August 10th 2014


No matter what you think about them, timelapses are like the Kardashians – they exist and are popular. But their novelty is a bit tired and are in desperate need of a change to get away from the cliché. Perhaps what they need is something antithetical, and novel. What they needed was Rob Whitworth, and his skills granted access to one of the most veiled places on the planet. North Korea.

A little while back, I wrote about another Whitworth ‘Flow-Motion’ video of Barcelona. I, and much of the world, it would seem, hadn’t seen anything quite like it before. His particular blend of time-lapse photography, videography, slow motion, and seemingly magical zooms, makes Whitworth just about the most compelling artists of his type. Countries have taken notice and their tourist boards have come knocking on his door to create features for their cities. The latest, and possibly greatest, is North Korea. ‘Enter Pyongyang; Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea.’


Pyongyang is no new city, but recent years have been a sort of adolescence for it, and this video is right up there highlighting this fact. Whitworth was granted a sort of unprecedented amount of access to sites all around the city, though he was chaperoned for the entirety of the job. A job, he did free of cost minus travel expenses. What this access and attitude seems to have allowed for is a disintegration of the stereotypes associated with North Korea in Western news. Dr. Patah Khanna, Director, Hybrid Reality wrote in the foreword of the video,

This video is the single most significant multi-­media contribution to transcending clichés about North Korea as a society defined by reclusiveness and destitution. To travel there is to witness a proud civilization, though one caught in a Cold War time-warp. Korean cultural traditions are meticulously preserved and displayed in authentic richness. Anyone who has witnessed the awe-inspiring Mass Games knows that, with great sacrifice, North Koreans can pull off a performance unparalleled in its precision.
Enter Pyongyang” captures the reality of North Korean citizens as earnest and humane, not automaton.

While that is a bold statement, it may also be true. I think what many people will also find interesting is the sort of dichotomy between the portrayal of everyday life, of peaceful people living in a civilized manner in a beautiful city, and yet knowing the ugly underbelly of what North Korea really is still representing on a global scale. Either way, the video is captivating. And curious about his gear list? Here it is:

Nikon D800
Nikon D7100
Nikon D3200
Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8 ED AF DX Fisheye
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX
Nikon 16-35 f/4G AF-S VR Zoom
Nikon 28mm AF f/2.8D
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED AF-S VR II

Source: Vimeo

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Great Video

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  2. Aaron Cheney

    This video in unbelievably beautiful! It has also left me in awe

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  3. Michael Moe

    great timelapse movie!

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  4. James Matthews

    Fantastic footage. The female crossing guard at 2:00 does a forward moonwalk across the street! Michael Jackson would be so proud :)

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    Great video

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  6. Matthew Saville

    Wow, that was incredible. I’m sure we’re only seeing a very calculated glimpse of the sum of the country’s lifestyle and condition, but it was beautiful indeed and I would love to visit someday. I hope life is good there for as many as possible.


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  7. Mads Helmer Petersen

    Fantastic video – and I must say this shows some other pictures from North Korea than we normally see in the media in EU.

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  8. Hannes Nitzsche

    It’s just amazing! Very unique with a few surprises along the way, this video is both a bit of an eye opener as well as very inspiring!

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  9. Aidyn Chen

    the video left me in Awe. North Koreans live in total cultural regulation. they live in their own country and obeys their country as if it was the whole world. it is amazing to document this cultural different. more amazing is that how did these people get there hi-def footage of such isolated country.

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  10. Herm Tjioe

    This is indeed rare to see so much in this video. Some are in prison for attempting to smuggle out pictures and videos.

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    • Kurk Rouse

      I was thinking the same thing Herm, the fact that we are seeing a high quality video of north Korea makes me wonder how he got the access .

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  11. Kurk Rouse

    Work like this makes me want to do video of my own

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Yeah Kurk, anything from Whitworth tends to make me feel that way. Actually, given the way the photogrpahy industry is going I highly suggest we all become fluent in videography

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