The Concrete And The Cherry Blossoms: A Glimpse of the Beautiful People Inside North Korea

We’ve all witnessed by now what Korea can accomplish when its people are allowed to exercise their full potential. Kia and Hyundai cars are a common sight on our roads, with design and quality matching any competition, Samsung mobile phones leaving Apple iPhones behind and Samsung mirrorless cameras consistently ranking among the best. There is a part of Korea, however, that is unfortunately still behind bars, its people unable to live free.

As a vacation destination, North Korea is not at the top of most 20-year-old’s must-see lists – that is, unless you are Benjamin Jakabek. The Canadian student is a political science major at a Toronto university, researched North Korea for years, followed the latest news developments, wanted to experience it first hand and recently turned his love for photography into the trip of a lifetime.

In the latest episode of The Weekly Flickr, a new series from Yahoo! that goes behind the lens of popular Flickr photographers, Benjamin documents his visit to the country and explains why the words “cherry blossoms” and “concrete” describe what he calls “one of the last untouched places in the world.

You show up there and see these large, concrete, Stalinist architecture, stoic government buildings and they’re contrasted against these beautiful cherry blossoms. And it kind of shows this contrast between the government and just how beautiful the people are.

Behind the propaganda, the rhetoric, the madness… there is the people, imprisoned in their own country, putting on a show for the outsiders who go on strictly guided tours. But then you catch glimpses of the real life, “little moments of happiness, especially with the kids. You can see them laughing and playing in the local playground – just like any place in the world.

Read Benjamin’s full story here: