But Xiaolu Chu, a Getty photographer, managed to capture a different side of North Korea predominantly using his mobile phone during a visit in 2015.
A few of his images were deleted by eagle-eyed officials, but most made it back and have since been shared with the world.
Chu says on his website: “This series shows the abject poverty of rural North Korea, snapped along the railway from Russia to Pyongyang and Pyongyang to Dandong, compared to the capital cityscape.
“Everywhere are shrines and monuments built in order to celebrate the Kim family, which has ruled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea with an iron fist since its establishment in 1948.”
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