The Tough Lives of Kim Jong Un’s Photographers


The world’s last Stalinist dictatorship is not immune to modern media – and the power it can have over people.

That’s why the dictators in Pyongyang have employed teams of propagandists and media experts over the decades to keep their carefully manicured image in perfect condition as far as North Koreans know.

Image by Louis

So, as you can imagine, being Kim Jong Un’s photographer is probably not the best gig in the world – or the most stable position.

After all, getting fired could mean more than just losing your job, as one man who dared to block the view of the Supreme Leader’s neck is now learning.

Apparently, a photographer for Kim Jong Un stood between him and a crowd of people gathered to meet him and ended up blocking the view of the dictator with his camera’s flash.

Daily NK reports that the photographer, with the surname Ri and a part of the Korean Art Film Studio, even accompanied Kim on the trip to Hanoi, Vietnam to meet with United States President Donald Trump.

PetaPixel quotes official outlet DPRK Today as saying the official violations were “adjusting the angle so that the camera’s flash covered the Dear and Respected Supreme Leader Comrade’s neck,” staying at least 2 meters away from him, and never standing in front of Kim Jong Un.

The punishment for this?

Ri’s mistake was called an “anti-Party act of damaging the Supreme Dignity of our Party” and was summarily kicked out of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea.

In North Korean society, being kicked out of the Party is a big deal due to the “songbun” caste system. Party members enjoy certain privileges and access in North Korea that non-members do not get to have.

Punishments can also come with compulsory re-education in prison camps that often hold thousands upon thousands of prisoners in horrible conditions.

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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