The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a place of endless fascination, not least for Western photographers, who seem to make their way inside the country on a weekly basis intent on capturing for themselves it’s eerily unpopulated public spaces.
The latest publisher to pull back the curtain on the totalitarian state is Phaidon, who today announced a new publication. The pastel pink and gold covered tome titled Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday life in the DPRK by Nicholas Bonner forms, according to Phaidon, “the most comprehensive collection of North Korean graphic ephemera to date”.
20 years of visits to North Korea have placed Nicholas Bonner, “the foremost expert in the country’s tourism and graphic culture”, in a solid position to consider, in impressively vast detail, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ’s state-controlled design output. Thousands of items, from tinned food labels to invitations for state performances, many strikingly beautiful in design, are laid across 240 pages, bringing with them many hours of browsing. Breaking up the images are eight essays which place the ephemera into social, historical and political contexts.