North Korea is one of the most secretive states in the world, but one man received permission from the nation’s strict regime to capture a drive through its capital Pyongyang. It’s a rare and immersive peek into a world few are allowed to witness.
North Korea’s citizens cannot travel abroad, they have little contact with those granted access and any media available in the country is tightly controlled by the Communist state, presided over by it’s ‘supreme leader’ Kim Jong-un.
Remarkable then that one man, reaching out to contacts found on the Internet, has been granted access to North Korea to document this hidden country immersively through the use of 360 panoramic images and video.
Aram Pan is a Singapore based photographer who has specialised in what he describes as ‘panorama production’ since 2007. In 2013 Pan started the ‘DPRK 360‘ project, an initiative to, in his words, “capture the essence of North Korea through the use of 360° panoramas, photos and videos.”
“I faxed and emailed various North Korean contacts that you can easily find online and after about a month or so, someone contacted me,” says Pan – speaking to CNN last year. “We met up and I got approval… just like that.”
View-able using Google Cardboard, Pan captured the 360 video footage of PyongYang’s main arterial roads using a custom GoPro Hero4 Black Rig, fitted with a 280-degree Entaniya lens. The resulting footage is somewhat eerie as many of the main areas and surrounding walkways look almost deserted. “It’s unfortunate that tourists and foreigners are often chaperoned along the arterial roads of Pyongyang,” Pan says, “because it’s the small streets like these that are filled with people.”
Pan’s DPRK 360 project seems presently to be unique. That Pan managed to secure access to capture this much footage in one of the most restrictive regimes in the world is one thing, (check out his incredible library of 360 photos too), filming it in a format that allows people to feel part of the journey, is pretty remarkable.