Ethan Wilkes

World News


What Will Become of the Next North Korea?

There are parts of the planet that are hopelessly poor. North Korea should not be one of them. Sitting at the crossroads of one of the most economically dynamic regions of the world, the dismal state of decay that this country currently finds itself is not a product of poor geography, but of decades of maligned politics and policies.

When stepping off the Tupolev Tu-154 and onto the tarmac at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, the impression is an immediate and profound “it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Once seeing South Korea that impression is only reaffirmed tenfold. The choices of leadership matter. With Kim Jong Il’s passing and his son Kim Jong-Un taking the reigns, what will become of the next North Korea remains an open question. Will Kim Jong-Un seek to found a new North Korea in the inspiration of China’s post-communist transition, or another North Korea modeled on his grandfather Kim Il-Sung’s own totalitarian state?

All photos taken by Ethan Wilkes. Used here with permission.

Pyongyang: Airport.
Seoul: Airport.
Pyongyang: Subway.
Seoul: Subway.
Pyongyang: Subway.
Seoul: Subway.
Pyongyang: Subway.
Seoul: Subway.
Pyongyang: Skyline.
Seoul: Skyline.
Pyongyang: Street life.
Seoul: Street life.
Pyongyang: Street life.
Seoul: Street life.
Pyongyang: Intersection.
Seoul: Intersection.
Pyongyang: Architecture.
Seoul: Architecture.
Pyongyang: Nightlife.
Seoul: Nightlife.
Pyongyang: Leisure time.
Seoul: Leisure time.
North Korea: DMZ tour.
South Korea: DMZ tour.
Pyongyang: Monument.
Seoul: Monument.
Pyongyang and Seoul: guards.
North Korea: Train station.
South Korea: Train station.
Pyongyang: Street view.
Seoul: Street view.