Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

North Korean Leader Kim Kong-un (Image Credit: Korean Central News Agency Photographs)

NEW YORK (The Blaze/AP) — An exhibit that opened Thursday offered New Yorkers a rare glimpse of life inside North Korea, including children singing in a theater, stark views of Pyongyang at dusk and North Koreans bowing before a monument of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

Windows on North Korea: Photographs From the DPRK,” is a joint exhibition by The Associated Press and the state-run Korean Central News Agency, and features a mix of archival and contemporary images.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

Associated Press Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, left, and Korean Central News Agency Senior Vice President Kim Chang Gwang tour the gallery during an opening reception for the Window on North Korea: Photographs from the DPRK photo exhibit, Thursday, March 15, 2012, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

The show was timed to open before the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung on April 15 and comes two months after the AP expanded its operations in Pyongyang to include writers and photojournalists. The AP became the first international news organization to have a full-time presence in the secretive communist country when it opened a video bureau in 2006.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States have never had formal diplomatic relations, and the two nations have experienced tensions over the years, particularly over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. North Korea has tested two atomic devices in the past six years.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

This Tuesday, April 12, 2011 photo shows central Pyongyang, North Korea at dusk. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

Tensions have recently eased somewhat. Late last month, the United States and North Korea announced an agreement that calls for Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear activities in exchange for food aid. Days later, a senior North Korean nuclear envoy traveled to the U.S. to attend a university forum while the U.S. and North Korea held more talks in Beijing to finalize the food aid.

“It is our hope that this exhibition would give exhibition-goers visual understanding of the people, customs, culture and history of the DPRK, thereby helping to deepen mutual understanding and improve the bilateral relations,” Kim Chang Gwang, KCNA’s senior vice president, said in an address at the show’s opening.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

North Korean soldiers applaud to their leader Kim Jong Il after a massive military parade marking the 65th anniversary of the communist nation's ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea on Sunday, Oct. 10, 2010. This year's celebration comes less than two weeks after Kim Jong Il's re-election to the party's top post and the news that his 20-something son would succeed his father and grandfather as leader. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Images on display included a 1953 KCNA photograph showing residents helping to rebuild Pyongyang’s central district after the Korean War, AP photos documenting visits by foreign dignitaries, as well as everyday scenes ranging from sunbathers at the beach to shoppers inside a modern department store.

The photographs “give us rare views of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a nation of great interest to the world, though little known,” said Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the AP.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

North Koreans pay their respects before a monument of Kim Il Sung at Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday April 14, 2011. People began to celebrate on the eve of 99th anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birthday. April 15 is called "The Day of the Sun" in honor of the former guerrilla fighter who founded North Korea in 1948. (AP Photo/David Guttenfelder)

“In this exhibit, we are offered two perspectives of the DPRK – as viewed by her native daughters and sons from KCNA and by AP journalists visiting to chronicle news and daily life there. We can appreciate the different styles and techniques and points of view,” Carroll said. “These photographs also show us that different people can find common ground,” Carroll said.

Several of the photographs are by AP Chief Asia Photographer David Guttenfelder, who has made many reporting trips to North Korea since 2010.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 29, 2011, North Korean children perform at a theater in Rason, North Korea. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

“Daily life is really what I try to focus on when I’m there. … It’s unscripted, it’s candid,” Guttenfelder said. “For people to see their own life in other people’s lives, I think it has a lot of power to break down barriers.”

The show also includes images taken by KCNA journalists who participated in a joint workshop in October led by AP instructors. It runs from March 15 to April 13 at The 8th Floor gallery in New York City.

Photos Show Rare Glimpse of Life in North Korea

Image Credit: Korean Central News Agency Photographs

The AP, an independent news cooperative founded in New York and owned by its U.S. newspaper membership, has operations in more than 100 countries and employs nearly 2,500 journalists across the world in 300 locations.

For more information on the gallery and to see more images of daily life in North Korea, click here.