My love of abandoned, creepy places is well-known on this blog. I’m always fascinated by places that time and humanity have left behind like Pripyat in the Ukraine — the site of the Chernobyl meltdown, the forgotten subway stops in New York City, parts of Cuba, or Hashima Island. However, right now, the holy grail for “time forgot this place” photography has got to be North Korea. First of all, outside of heavily state-sanctioned photo ops, foreign photographers are not allowed to take photographs inside the country. Pulling out a camera in North Korea is met with about the same level of reaction that someone pulling out a bazooka in a family restaurant would get in the rest of the world.
Still, every once in a while, the planets align properly and a journalist either manages to sneak in some photography gear and then sneak out without it being detected or the ruling regime decides to let the rest of the world see the glorious happiness in which the enlightened and self-sufficient people of North Korea live. One of these latter instances let Time Magazine photographer Tomas van Houtryve capture images and put together a photo essay called “A Rare Look Inside North Korea.”
It’s strange to look at photos that would have seemed normal thirty or forty years ago and know that they’re only a few years old. Places like North Korea are like living, breathing time capsules. If it weren’t for the horrific conditions that the regimes force their people to live under, they might make interesting studies in history. Still, it is a very unique chance to get to travel backwards in time with photography and to see a world where time moves much more slowly than in the rest of the world.
What are some abandoned regions or places that time forgot that you’d like to see photographed more? Let us know in the comments below!
— da Bird