by JAMES S. KIM | @james_s_kim
Singaporean photographer Aram Pan has captured a number of fascinating images of North Korea since making his first trip to the country in 2013. He initially began photographing the hermit kingdom to quench his personal curiosity, but soon the project expanded into something greater.
Pan’s photography project DPRK 360 focuses on engaging North Koreans in a positive, friendly and non-political manner. With every subsequent visit, Pan has been allowed even more freedom to explore North Korea. He’s captured North Korean women’s fashion shows, couples publicly showing affection and locals working in the countryside in photos, videos and even 360-degree panoramas.
During his latest visit in June through Young Pioneer Tours, Pan brought along a new toy: a super-wide angle Entaniya Fisheye Lens from Entapano. The result is the world’s first 360-degree video entirely shot in North Korea. The 19-minute video includes footage of North Koreans studying in a classroom, tourists walking to the Tumen River, Pan chatting with locals and glimpses of North Korean landscapes.
What’s really cool is that viewers can “look around.” If you’re viewing the video through a mobile device (must install the latest YouTube app), you can move your phone as a lens to view the scenery, or use your fingers to adjust what you see. Computer users (must have the latest HTML5 capable browser) can click and drag to adjust the view, or use the WASD keys.
However, the video is quite heavy on memory usage and the Internet, so your best experience will be on capable mobile devices and computers with a decent Wi-Fi connection. The video is also compatible with VR headsets, just in case any of our readers own a pair.
You can watch the video below. Pan was excited to share the video with our readers, telling KoreAm, “I think everyone will be geeked out.”
Pan’s work will be included in a photo exhibition at the upcoming “Desire to Unify” event in Seoul from September 23 to 25. He recently spoke at the inauguration ceremony, sharing his approach and mindset in reaching out to North Koreans.
“[The North Koreans] are beginning to understand what I’m trying to do,” Pan told KoreAm in an interview back in November 2014. “I merely want to try to understand what they are all about. I believe that over time, they will show me more and more stuff about what it means to be North Korean.
“I strongly believe that what I’m doing is paving the way for a peaceful option for them to open up to the world. The results won’t be immediate, but let’s take it one step at a time.”