MICHAL HUNIEWICZ: His story of photoing North Korea

Michal Huniewicz is a photographer from London.  That is about all I know about Mr. Huniewicz; except he is one hell of a photographer that gets around.   Huniewicz is obviously a very skilled professional.  The subject(s) and scenes he captures is as much about telling  a story as it is masterful quality.   I found a series of photographs of a trip Mr. Huniewicz took inside NORTH KOREA as a sidebar to an internet article I was reading.  Clicked on the link…..and wow, found these amazing pictures with a summary of each.   Not only did he describe most of what he had caught on camera…..but almost as impressive, he gives tips on how to smuggle in a camera; after all, he was in North Korea.

Viewing these photos raised many questions:  How did he pull off not only getting the camera in but getting it and the photos out?   I was so fascinated with the photos of North Korea and the questions it raised; I have and still am taping the internet to learn more about Huniewicz and his story of this secluded country.

Here is a bit on Mr. Huniewicz’s adventurous train ride inside North Korea.  I am paraphrasing (possibly closer to actually quoting)  Huniewicz from his summaries or captions to the photos (with some comments from yours truly) from this point until you see  *****************.

Outsiders must fill out a North Korean customs declaration form, which is a list of your belongings to enter this cold, dark nation.   Mr. Huniewicz was chosen by a group of fellow travelers to fill out this form which they were allowed as a group, rather than individually.  What an honor, with customs officers lurking.  The form mentions GPS.  Huniewicz’s camera didn’t have geotagging but had a GPS entry in the menu; which made a customs officer a bit suspicious.

Mr. Huniewicz has some suggestions (tips) for photographers going to North Korea.  1) Avoid looking like a professional. Make your camera look as amateurish as possible.  Place the least suspicious and least professional looking lens on the camera.  2) Change the menu language to something other than English to confuse and slow down customs officers.  Huniewicz’s travel group went through three hours of customs check which took place inside the train and eventually were allowed entry inside North Korea.

Huniewicz took photos from the train which is not allowed, but he did it anyway, even while North Korean’s (citizens) looked on but said nothing.  He avoided taking pictures when uniformed officers were around.  If the uniforms catch you taking pictures they will just have you delete the photo.  Tip: Override the filmware on your camera, so that the delete button won’t delete, but hides, so it appears gone, but it is still on the card. Even if your files are deleted you can still recover them as long as you don’t write over the card any more.

Huniewicz refers to one of his photos as being a “double illegal photo”.    It is a photo taken from the train (illegal)  and it is one which he captured North Korean soldiers riding on the back of a military truck; totally forbidden!

The travel group’s destination was Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.  It was a long train ride, with Huniewicz practicing his skill of photography along the way.   There is one photo at the train station in Pyongyang, with resident’s (and such) well dressed, nice looking individuals….looking quite professional; but the appearance seemed rehearsed or staged, probably to impress visitors.  *******************

It is quite easy to do an internet search to find Michal Huniewicz photography.   If you google his name with North Korea you will find some of the photos from this trip, as well as his website.   He is an amazing talent.

My research of the photographer’s trip inside North Korea has only taken me to the train station for now.   I will continue to learn more about what took place outside the train and his return.  I am most interested in viewing more and sharing.  I am fascinated with the who, what, when and how of Mr. Huniewicz and his adventure inside North Korea, land of the forbidden.  Pictures do tell the true story of a sad nation often seldom if ever seen.






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