If nuclear concerns haven’t pushed North Korea back to the front of American consciousness, Dennis Rodman’s recent visit has. It’s a reminder of just how rare an opportunity it is to meet with the North Korean leader; NPR’s news blog says Rodman is “the only American to have met and talked with Kim [Jong Un].”
Just setting foot in North Korea is a feat. But as chief Asia photographer for the AP wire service, photographer David Guttenfelder (who snapped this photo of Rodman at an airport) goes every few weeks. And in recent months, he has made a few dents in Korea’s historically iron wall by posting photos — in real time — to Instagram. But back in 2000, when he went for the first time, mobile phones were not allowed at all.
“Not only could I not bring a phone but I was told not to take pictures from a moving bus,” he says via Skype from Tokyo, where he’s based. “They put sheets over the windows of my hotel room so I couldn’t see outside. I had this strange feeling that nothing was real.”
A lot has changed since then. “Fast forward to February,” Guttenfelder says, “and suddenly I’m standing in Pyongyang and can send [photos] straight to Instagram or … straight to the office.”
Media Credit: David Guttenfelder