North Korea Hardcover – 23 Oct 2006
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'Absolutely fantastic ... Chancel's images, much like North Korea itself, emphasise the seemingly innocent, glossily perfect, surface of things' --British Journal of Photography
'Fascinating ... a weighty tome, and so is the contents ... beautiful' --Professional Photographer
'Tantalising' --The Dubliner
'Fascinating and disturbingly beautiful' --Outdoor Photography
'A remarkable coup ... a unique work of reportage'
--Ellesmere Port Pioneer
'Chilling scenography ... a talented survey' --The Daily Telegraph
'A unique work of reportage' --Liverpool Daily Post
'Startling images that are at once impressive and chilling' --Metro
About the Author
Philippe Chancel has worked all over the world and his photographs have been exhibited widely. Michel Poivert is the author of several books on photography. Jonathan Fenby is the former editor of the South China Morning Post and the Observer.
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Top Customer Reviews
Criticized by some for his objectivity and seeming unwillingness to comment overtly on the political situation, the work invokes a sense of emptiness and futility which speaks of oppression and a lack of individualism.
The work was shortlisted for the prestigious Deutsch Borse prize and voted best on the shortlist by gallery attendees at London's Photographers gallery.
If you want a guide book to the country don't buy it. North Korean guidebooks don't exist (for obvious reasons)
Philippe Chancel's book essentially covers the capitol Pyongyang but Harris visits several places in the country. Pyongyang is stuffed with bureaucrats, civil servants and the military plus their families so it can hardly be considered truly representative of the country. Chancel's beautiful photos reflect this. You'll have to look hard to find the tell-tale signs of the typical third world city: poverty side by side with the wealthy few, falling apart infrastructure, litter and just too many people. What you will see are wide boulevards lined with apartment blocks, trees and grass covered areas, huge, solid, predictable socialist style museums, monuments and plenty of signage revealing the (wise?) political thoughts of the Great Leader and his lad. It all seems clean, tidy and nothing out of place. Even close-ups of people don't reveal inferior and tatty clothing. For the real Korea you'll have to look at the Mark Harris book.
Both books rightly cover the extraordinary Arirang Massed Games (Chancel has twelve excellent photos) held in the 150,000-seat May Day Stadium where 100,000 performers parade and surrounding them 20,000 to 40,000 students create amazing human pictures by holding flip boards above their heads. How this part of the Games is organised would make a book in itself. Chancel also has several photos inside the Children's Palace showing embroidery, dancing and singing classes. I wonder if this kind of education is the norm outside of Pyongyang?Read more ›