One of the most covered topics at our pre-tour briefing was photography. We were told that we could only take photos when granted permission to do so, and that photography from the bus and taking photos of soldiers was strictly prohibited. As we soon discovered upon arrival in North Korea, however, some restrictions on photography are really at the discretion of your guides. Our guides were pretty mellow, and would encourage us to shoot photos of various things (i.e., the traffic girls) as we drove by. One guide actually became quite annoyed when we kept inquiring if it was OK to take photos from the bus, and asked us “Why do you keep asking me if you can take photos?!” We couldn’t help it, it was just contrary to what we had been told at the briefing and we didn’t want to get in trouble. I later discovered that we had been quite lucky to have landed these guides, as some other tour groups who were staying at our hotel with us had very strict guides. In fact, I can only remember two instances when we were told we couldn’t take photos. The first was when we arrived at the army building right outside the DMZ and were instructed not to take photos of the entrance. The second time was when we were driving through a rural area outside Kaesong and our guide told us to put our cameras away, as photography was prohibited in this particular area. I’m not 100% sure, but I think it was because we were passing by various military fortifications. Or at least that’s what they looked like.
Anyways, with hardly any restrictions on photography, everyone in our tour group took tons of photos. Since I had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of memory cards and batteries, I would sometimes just hit the video record button and let the camera capture whatever was going on outside our bus as we sped by. Here is the first clip. You’ll see a lot of commieblocks, propaganda, and incredibly wide streets with hardly any vehicles.