Lives in flux: HKBU students capture the changing lives of North Koreans, May 1

1 May 2014

Signs of the modern world are increasingly emerging In North Korea since Kim Jong-un took control in 2011. In the capital Pyongyang residents ice skate and ride Italian-made roller coasters while a priveliged elite drive foreign luxury cars, stopping at newly-installed traffic lights.

Today's North Korean women wear high heels and ride bicycles (after a law banning them was repealed in 2012). Secondary school students on electric guitars play songs praising the leaders. Couples in military uniforms hold hands, and some play Angry Birds on their smart phones, even though they can’t access the internet.

But it remains unclear whether this trickle of modernity has brought new ideas to the hardline communist state. Schools still teach a heavily-biased version of history and hatred towards the United States and Japan are on the curriculum. Propaganda murals featuring former leaders are everywhere and, even at the ice rink, songs glorifying the Stalinist regime never cease to be played.

The photos in this gallery were all taken by journalism students from the Hong Kong Baptist University during a visit to North Korea in April.