Alain’s desire to visit twice in 2019 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is well summarised by the quote of Japanese Magnum photographer Hiroji Kubota: “Study the works of the greatest photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and Andre Kertesz. Try to travel to many parts of the world and understand what a diverse world we live in.” Hiroji was in North Korea in 1986. So, in February 2019, he traveled to North Korea in and around Pyongyang for one week. He decided to go back in November 2019 for one week, this time with Choson Exchange, a Singapore-based social non-profit organization focused on economic policy, business, and legal training for young North Koreans.
“In February 2019, a week before the second Trump Kim summit in Hanoi, I traveled to North Korea, in and around Pyongyang for 7 days, visiting about 35 places, always monitored and guided by the Korean Tourist Bureau and its minders. Beyond the prospects of a nuclear confrontation between the United States and the most hermetic power on the globe, I wanted to document what life is for its citizens, away from the propaganda images we are used to seeing.
Even though I got to see probably just a façade, I wanted to show what life is like for people in this closed society. I was not allowed to travel freely but I could document without being censored. As a photographer, my motivation was to try to witness and document first hand by going on location; visiting a cooperative farm, a window glass factory, a school, a bowling alley, a library, a water park, and numerous monuments, museums, and other sights.
The North Korea portrayed in these photographs is very real. My purpose is not to judge but humbly to try to better understand the kind of existence people have in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. (Alain Schneuwly)
About the Author
Alain Schneuwly is a travel and street photographer based in Singapore since 2010. Over the last 30 years, he has had the opportunity to travel and photograph London, New York, Singapore, China, Morocco, the tribes of West Papua; and recently North Korea to name a few places which drew his curiosity.
Street photography has enabled him to capture the world around him candidly, without constraints, and to express his emotions and share his view of the world as a simple witness.
Alain Schneuwly: NORTH KOREAN INTERLUDE
01.10.21 – 31.10.21
Leica Marina Bay Sands – Singapore