Moscow-based Ilya Pitalev is a photographer for RIA Novosti, a Russian and international news agency. His photo series documenting modern life in North Korea has recently won in the Current Affairs category for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards.
His contest submission entry was taken in 2012 when North Korea opened its doors to a select group of international photographers and media for a few days to celebrate the centennial birthday of the state’s founder.
According to Pitalev, "It was very difficult to have any plan, idea or concept while taking pictures in North Korea. I work for the biggest information agency in Russia and, by definition, should get the very essence of every event. And I wanted to say that people in North Korea exist in their own separate world, difficult for understanding from outside the country. This is the society which lives with faith in communism and their leaders. The shops are empty, people suffer. They cannot imagine that the world might be different."
"How do they live, can they be happy, what life means to them - these are the questions I kept asking myself. I still do not have definite answers and hope to get there again to clarify my uncertainty."
These photos offer a rare glimpse into the world of North Koreans, and aside from the glaring uniformity, we are offered a chance to look closely at the facial expressions of the people who live in the tightly shut state.
[via My Modern Metropolis]