Photographer Jeremy Hunter visited last year's epic Nuremberg-style rally in Pyongyang - the one where tens of thousands of wretched schoolchildren are drilled to within an inch of their lives to act as human pixels in a spectacular kitsch-fest to the glory of the Kim dynasty:
Training begins in February for ten hours a day, six days a week, says Mr Hunter, who learned more about the spectacle and the meaning of its imagery after returning to England. It is reckoned that it takes 250m man-hours—or child-hours—to produce. “These children are really coerced into performing,” he remarks. “Almost certainly they’re children of the so-called elite or loyal class”, those given exclusive right to live in the capital. The show itself is pure propaganda directed at the poorest, who are bussed in their thousands from the countryside. “It is a way of enthusing the peasant class about the quality of life that the regime believes they can offer.”
The shimmering skylines of Pyongyang and Shanghai, sacred mountains, rivers of leaping fish and overflowing fruits are meant to convey the fantasy of North Koreans as a “chosen people” with a life far better than any outside. There are no images of people cutting grass with scissors to supplement their food rations of 1,000 calories a day, or of the gulags like Camp 15 and Yodok, a complex that houses 50,000 prisoners....
Warned that professional cameras, phones and GPS equipment would be seized and punishment severe for those caught sneaking photographs, Mr Hunter played the tourist. No long lenses were allowed, “but there are ways of overcoming that,” he says, giving away nothing else. His minder was extremely kind, and ensured that he got an ideal seat among the elite members of the party.
An exhibition of Hunter's photos is on display at the Atlas Gallery off Baker Street till mid-February:
The pair of revolvers that Kim Il Sung's widow presented to his favoured son Kim Jong-Il, with the advice "Aim High!".
More here, with slideshow.