The 9th of September is a major national holiday in North Korea – sometimes called Independence day in the West, it’s the day the Founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 9 September 1948 is celebrated. There are celebrations everywhere, but we were lucky to spend most of the day in and around Wŏnsan, a port on the East Sea.
It was rainy most of the day, giving the not so big-city celebrations (unlike those in Pyongyang) a special atmosphere. It also provided a unique opportunity of some candid shots of people, something nearly impossible to do in North Korea as photography is rather ‘regulated’ and generally people are very nervous about people or even things being photographed. (Always ask first!) But here, as long as we were not too obtrusive, we could get some shots without being frowned upon.
Here our lovely young guide is staring out at the East Sea while waiting for our Dutch travel companion to buy a flower tribute for us to take part in the ceremonies. She has a melancholy look – “just thinking”, she told me… The dress she is wearing is a typical modern interpretation of traditional Korean dress, with bright colors, and flowers machine-embroidered on synthetic material, but the model is close to what it has been for centuries as seen on old paintings. She surprised us with it: on most days she wore clothes in a more ‘business’ style. I think she looked lovely in this.
Taken in Wŏnsan, North Korea 2006
Camera: Fuji Finepix F30
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