Key Information

  • Approximately 50 hanging metres
  • 81 framed photographs
  • Budget ££

Key Information

  • Approximately 50 hanging metres
  • 81 framed photographs
  • Budget ££

North Korea - or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as it is known locally - is one of the most isolated countries in the world. Few foreigners are able to visit it and few North Koreans are able to travel abroad. Our knowledge of this singular state is therefore particularly limited, with debate often centring on the idea of North Korea as an abstract geopolitical entity – as a land of incomprehensible systems and beliefs. 

But North Korea is a real country of 23 million inhabitants. This exhibition sets out to provide a view of the people and the country that we hope will inform future discussion. It shows people doing ordinary things – students walking down a street; a man waiting at a tram stop; women bathing in the sea – as well as less ordinary sights, such as a much-decorated hero of the Korean War travelling to the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in his Mercedes; dancers rehearsing in the car park before a performance at the Arirang Games; and a glimpse into the routines of workers on a collective farm.

Nick Danziger, Rory MacLean, and Andrea Rose, Director of Visual Arts at the British Council, travelled to North Korea in August 2013, with the support of the DPRK’s Central Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, and were given exceptional access to individuals and places in North Korea. They visited the cities of Pyongyang, Nampo, Wonsan and Sariwon, each day taken up with meeting people and encouraging them to talk about their lives. Danziger’s photos show another side to the story of North Korea; they focus on the individuals who live in the country, whose smallest pleasures are not all that different from people elsewhere, however bizarre and limiting their circumstances appear to us.

The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour 206 page catalogue with an expanded selection of photographs, and profiles of 12 individuals by the writer Rory MacLean. Notes on the 150 photographs provide commentary on life and culture in North Korea, and include translations of all of the Korean text seen in the images.  

The British Council has been running a teacher training programme in the DPRK for the past 13 years. This is the first cultural project we have undertaken with citizens of the country and it is a unique opportunity for the British Council to demonstrate its ability to marshal the arts in pursuit of cultural relations objectives. In this case, opening a dialogue with the institutions of the DPRK. 

Installation Images

  • Nick Danziger NKA03948 2013
  • Nick Danziger NKA11735 2013
  • Nick Danziger NKA14128 2013
  • Nick Danziger NKB80071 2013
  • Nick Danziger NKA03676 2013
  • Installation View, London, 2014
  • Installation View, London, 2014
  • Installation View, London, 2014
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