Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, though far from the Parises and Tokyos of the world when it comes to annual foreign visitors, isn’t quite the inaccessible locale it is often thought to be. Guardian architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and unleashed a series of photos on Instagram documenting both the dictatorship’s totemic Soviet architecture—largely built in the 1960s and ‘70s—and unexpectedly retro, pastel-hued interiors.
A new photo series by French lensman Raphael Olivier documents his turn in the DPRK, who used a travel agency to book an architecture tour last month. In an essay for Dezeen, Olivier explains his motivations for taking a trip many would skip for political reasons—let alone monetary ones—as well as the type of camera equipment he used to capture what he calls the city’s "harshness, strength, resilience, and pride."
Olivier’s work is just the latest in a steady stream of images out of the DPRK; Popular vlogger Louis Cole faced heated criticism from several corners of the internet for his attempts at "apolitical" vlogging from the nation—documenting its surfing culture, for example. You can read Olivier’s essay in full, and see the entire batch of impressive photos, over at Dezeen, and follow him on Instagram here.