Raphael Olivier is a French photographer living in Shanghai. In 2015 he had the rare chance to fly to Pyongyang in North Korea and to see the so-called Hermit Kingdom. And he returned again only a year later to immortalize it on camera for posterity.
One of the most striking aspects of Pyongyang, that immediately caught the photographer’s attention, was the retro mood and architecture. This is the reason for his desire to photograph this unique urban landscape that is so different from the Western metropolis we’ve used to see. Not entirely unexpected, in his series of photographs from Pyongyang we notice how many buildings are influenced by Soviet modernism but with a distinctive Korean flair.
Pyongyang differs from many cities all over the world that start to look identical because it has very few commercials and no visual pollution, which provides a very clean urban landscape, says Raphael. For him, Pyongyang remains among the most memorable places he has ever visited, and regardless of its ideology or political leanings, the city looks strong and proud although it leaves also kind of hostile impression.
Check for yourself how Pyongyang looks through his lens…